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MacGyverBy Jessica Westfall

MacGyver was an 80s tv show that my parents introduced me to my Freshman year of high school. MacGyver was a jack-of-all trades, he could find a solution to any problem and was an all around helpful guy. I was impressed, and sometimes skeptical, of the daring escapes he made with common, and sometimes all-too-convient, everyday items. But one theme held true throughout the show, MacGyver saw use where others didn’t. More importantly, he used that knowledge and got out of sticky situations. Our lives are riddled with helpful metaphorical gum wrappers and paper clips, but it does take some training to recognize their usefulness. While MacGyver was heralded as an man who’s brain just worked differently, we all have the ability to improve our lives with a little guidance.

A huge part of every human life is social interaction, especially families. Anyone in a family will admit there are moments of friction, times when the right solution is not yet apparent. Like the many friends MacGyver met along the way, we have all the same tools at our disposal, but like MacGyver, only some know how to effectively use them. We all have ways of communicating, verbally and nonverbally. We all have choice in how we react and what we say. The MacGyver’s of the family world seem to have it all together, no situation is too sticky or harrowing to be resolved.
Those that seem to have a gift may indeed have a gift, the gift of knowledge. Some can learn this knowledge through personal experience, and many do. But a lot of the time it’s easier and more pleasant to learn from another’s experience. My mother and father attended a marriage seminar a few years ago and Mom remarked after that she knew first hand  what the presenter was teaching because they (my parents) had figured it out through trial and error. She joked that it would have been a lot easier to figure it out if they’d had the class 20 year earlier. What if your 20 years ago is now?

I have incredible respect for those that regularly service their vehicles. Buying a car from someone like that is absolutely wonderful (I’m pretty sure MacGyver kept his vehicle in top condition). Yet many of us, including me, do not take the time to do more than regular oil changes. Why not? Well, it’s hard, it seems like a lot of work for something that might not be needed, life is busy. Yet we all know cars break down, especially when neglected. We don’t regret our neglect until it’s too late and the car is broken down. That’s when the real inconvenience of a big repair happens. But those repairs can be costly, sometimes the vehicle isn’t even salvageable. When that happens the time and energy and cost of keeping up with the car doesn’t seem so steep anymore. Does that sound familiar?  It should, because many people have the same attitudes about marriage and family. There is no need to fix something that isn’t broken, in fact it’s often seen as embarrassing to seek guidance or the sign of a defective relationship. Many great cars stop working because of neglect, and so do many marriage and family relations.

It shouldn’t be embarrassing to gain knowledge that improves a marriage. It doesn’t mean that a parent is subpar when they seek parenting guidance. I take it as a sign of great parental wisdom to seek out the best ways to raise children. The same can be said for couples. There is so much information about marriage and families. Other people, like researchers, scientists, therapists, and those like my parents that learned through trial and error, have discovered answers and want to share them. So read a parenting book, attend a  marriage seminar, research healthy communication and boundaries on the internet. It’s all out there and readily accessible for little to no cost. The real tragedy would be to ignore the incredible knowledge out there. MacGyver would not have been as exciting without his extra know-how.

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