April 22, 2017
Nine simple truths –
May they be your first thoughts every morning and may they infiltrate your every move and every relationship:
- To be respected and treasured and able to respect and treasure all other people.
- Capable of expressing my opinions and will do so with growing and greater confidence.
- Uniquely gifted and my gifts are useful to my immediate and broader community.
- As unique as the proverbial snowflake and yet part of the human family, tainted with its vulnerabilities, failures, and frailties.
- Capable of forgiving the worst of offenses I have endured, and capable of seeking forgiveness for the worst offenses I have committed.
- Able to encourage the discouraged and offer hope to the hopeless.
- Unafraid of the talents of others and able and willing to help others find their greatness.
- Capable of becoming the most generous person I know.
- My own best friend so that I may be a friend to others.
April 17, 2017
Talk about what you would like to do more as a family and what would we prefer to do less as a family. The list may include monumental challenges that take years to address. The list may include things that can be changed in an instant.
Talk about what you would each like to do more, and less, as individuals in the family. As above, some may be really easy and some may take seemingly forever.
Plan something meaningful and unusual (“off the charts”) that the family agrees to work toward. This may be a trip, a building project, or entering as a family into a race.
Discuss (according to age, ability, and appropriateness) topics that are usually taboo like death, sex, finances, and family secrets. Discuss why they are taboo in the first place. When and why and how did the secret become a secret. Who decides what is and what is not a secret?
Consult a professional who is able to construct a Genogram with your family. Request that it span three generations. This will (potentially) alert family members to troublesome trends and urges that pre-exist within the family system and therefore (potentially) equip members to face them if and when they emerge again. Nothing in families is new!
April 12, 2017
There is a woman I know who dates very widely. She seems to be in constant search of a man. Her online searches are almost always successful and result in a relationship that involves moving homes, changing her daughter’s school, and sometimes changing cities.
Three times, at least, I have heard “this is the one” and she has been fully invested in the new relationship. Her zeal is faultless. Her research is extensive. She is very aware of the impact that her relationships have on her young child and waits months before introducing a new man into her life.
The child is happy; she loves his mother. She is a trooper when it comes to moving and re-settling.
Four to five months into the relationship the woman’s control mechanisms kick in. She begins faultfinding and she begins to want to re-arrange the man into someone he is not. As each of the men has stood up to her, she reads resistance as rejection – and from there things plummet.
She knows she visits her unresolved family issues on the men who are close to her.
She is aware that in every case the men were honorable.
The outward search continues when solutions are only to be found is within.
April 10, 2017
Finding the delicate balance between knowing, being aware, and invading or conquering.
My teenage sons deserve private lives that are quite separate from me. Yet, they need me to be knowledgeable about their difficulties, their confusions, and some of their discomforts. I’ve noticed that when I am comfortable with my own life, my relationships, with setting and achieving my goals, I am quite relaxed about theirs. When I am discontent with my own life I tend to want to meddle with, or invade, or fix their lives.
Finding the balance between serving my sons and letting them do necessary tasks without my help.
I usually do the laundry – but both boys are fully capable of doing their own. When I do it for them I am happily serving them and they are grateful and we are all happy with what is mostly an unspoken arrangement. When my sons are annoyed or picky about the way I do the laundry (and this is quite rare) then they have lost their grateful edge and have moved into entitlement and expectations. At this point my help is not very helpful.
May our struggles in our home, as different as they may be from yours, inspire and encourage you.
April 2, 2017
Mondays – celebrating the first workday of the week:
I love Mondays although I have not always done so. I especially enjoy the first Monday of the month.
Mondays are a reset button. They are an opportunity to set new goals and to reset goals that have lapsed. They are a new beginning, a fresh start and an internal blank slate, a new baseline. Whatever metaphor you employ, I’d suggest we reject the term “blue-Monday” from here on out and switch it for “Magnificent Monday.”
Mondays are an opportunity to love life and to love the lives of those around you and I don’t only mean family and loved ones. Mondays are an opportunity to see the miracle within all people and to affirm human resilience.
Mondays are an opportunity to affirm the spiritual nature of all things, from the most mundane, like getting up and getting ready for the commute to work to the most glorious, like the opportunity to pay debts, thank coworkers, and be part of a vibrant, even conflicted community.
Mondays are a wonderful opportunity to be generous, to be forgiving, and to encourage. They are an opportunity to set the stage for the change you’d like to see in your own life and to measure and assess progress 50-plus times a year.
March 14, 2017
I ask a woman how her life is going and she tells me about her children. She’s very forthcoming. I hear about their failures and successes and their disappointments and their accomplishments in sports.
So I ask again how she is enjoying her life and she tells me about her children’s teachers and how dedicated they are and how they go the extra mile for her sons and how much she appreciates it and how happy her sons are at school.
I persist and ask her if she has any close friends and how much time she spends with her peers and she tells me how her sons’ friendships are a little disappointing to her and that sometimes they get left off birthday party lists and how much it hurts her when that happens and how she wishes adults were more sensitive to her children.
I ask the same woman who happens to also be a wife how she is enjoying her husband and she tells me they “work together” as parents and they are almost always on the “same page.”
I press in and ask the woman if she has a life outside of being a mom and she gives me that blank look as if I have no idea what I am talking about.
March 12, 2017
When it comes to my sons, I remind myself of these things:
- Their lives are larger at their ages than mine was at their ages. Of course, they’re starting late and the world is a very different place. Their platforms are more complex, and more dynamic than mine was and, I admit, I am somewhat limited in my ability to identify with it. This means I should not be taken aback when I am blinded to possibilities and experiences they see and want to embrace. Rejecting an idea or a possibility simply because I couldn’t envision it is a good way to widen a gap than is mine, and not theirs, to bridge.
- While the world is a very different place than it was in my formative years, some things remain unchanged. Good manners, using please and thank you, looking people in the eye, standing up for adults, dealing honestly with money and time, working hard, and displaying empathy in the face of those who are suffering – are values that cannot be discarded just because the world is faster paced than it once was. One of my jobs as a parent is to encourage, even enforce some of these things if necessary.
- I am enough for my sons and the only dad they will ever need.