Editor’s Note: Today, we welcome my friend and award winning Catholic author Karina Fabian and celebrate the publication of her wonderful new book Mind Over Mind (Paperback, Kindle). I hope you enjoy Karina’s contribution and that you’ll check our Mind Over Mind and her other amazing works of fiction too! LMH
Too often these days, parent-child relationships are portrayed in fiction as dysfunctional. Parents are self-absorbed or clueless; kids don’t trust or talk to them, and only some major outside influence causes them to come together as the team God meant them to be–or maybe even as a team, but not the kind of team God expects, where the parents are wise and in charge and the children obedient and helpful.
I don’t think that reflects reality–certainly not my reality. My parents supported me in all that I did, and even when as a teen, I would get annoyed at my dad’s silly jokes or my mom’s “obsessive” cleaning of our house, I never doubted their intelligence, their wisdom and their love for me. I turned to them for guidance, and thrived under their nurturing.
As a parent myself, I have strived to raise my family the same way. Of course, we’ve turned out very different from the home I grew up in. I think my kids talk to me more than I did to my parents, and I make no bones about enjoying being an embarrassment to them at times. We’ve had a lot of struggles, but we’ve struggled together, and that’s the key.
So when I wrote the character Joshua Lawson for Mind Over Mind, I wanted him to have a healthy relationship with his parents. Josh is at a vulnerable time in his life–just got out of a horrid and overly physical relationship with the wrong woman, is living away from his home town for the first time, across the nation for a summer internship, and has met the woman of his dreams…who also happens to be a coworker and ten years older than he is. He needs advice, a steadying influence and to be reminded of his worth–and his weaknesses. Who better than his parent for that?
Here’s a scene from Mind Over Mind. Joshua is interning at a psychiatric institution and has had a bad day at work. The night before, he’d been talking–well counseling–Deryl, one of the patients and it had a noticeable effect on Deryl. However, as an intern, he’s not supposed to be counseling patients alone and the jury is out on whether the change in Deryl is good or bad. (Josh thinks it’s very promising.) He gets reprimanded, so he gripes to the woman of his dreams, who was not in the mood for whining, so he calls home. (One note: He has a bad habit of saying “really” when he’s hiding something, and his parents know it.)
He didn’t hold back with his parents, however. “I thought you’d be on my side!” he snapped into the phone.
“Of course we’re on your side, honey,” his mother soothed. “And that means when you screw up, we need to call you on it.”
“But I did good work!”
This time his father, who was on an adjoining line, replied. “What you did with Ydrel sounds promising. We’re not arguing that. But you’re not a 44-year-old psychiatrist with a PhD and two decades’ experience. You’re a teenage intern without a degree or a license. If anything had gone wrong—or goes wrong—it could open up a big can of worms for the institution.”
Joshua made a pained sound. “I never thought of that. I’m surprised Dr. Malachai didn’t bring that up.”
His mother snorted. “I’m not. You showed him up pretty badly. He wanted to put you back in your place, and rational arguments might have legitimized your work.”
Now, Joshua smiled. That was more the reaction he’d hoped for. “So what do I do? I really want to help this kid, and I can. And you know I can, Dad, or I wouldn’t be here. The point is, I get the feeling that Dr. Malachai doesn’t intend to let me have any real impact. And Edith doesn’t expect me to do more than be his buddy. That’s not what I came here for.”
“You went there to learn, and not just about working with patients,” his father said. “Find a way to work with Edith and Randall. All those skills you’ve learned aren’t just for clients, you know. Find the best way to approach them with a plan that’s palatable to both of them. Remember the first time you tried to read Tielhard de Chardin?”
“Ugh.” The French philosopher was one of the thickest, most soporific writers he’d ever tackled. It would take him days to figure out even a page. If he hadn’t been mid-semester with an A average, he’d have just dropped the course and tossed Tielhard out the window.
“Malachai is your next Chardin.”
“And remember, my maverick,” his mother added, “talented though you are, you are a 19-year-old undergraduate intern. Dr. Randall Malachai is a top-rated psychiatrist, administrator of an important mental care facility, and your boss. If you’re going to survive the summer, you’d better find a way to work with him.”
Joshua sighed. “That’s what Sachiko said.”
“Yeah,” he sighed again. “She’s this nurse.”
When he didn’t say anything more, his mother prompted, “And?”
And she’s smart and funny, and the way she smiles— “Well, really, she’s the swing shift supervisor, and really close to Ydrel…and when I talked to her tonight about all this, she just said about the same thing, that’s all. Really.” Only she got ticked and I got mad and I’ve probably blown any chance with her and why am I even thinking about that?
Now he heard a different set of sighs from his parents: the worried can-we-protect-you-from-this? kind. “Sugar, you just picked yourself up from a really hard break-up. That’s one of the reasons you decided to intern so far away—”
“Mom, it’s okay. Really.”
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