Relationships are complex, and they require maintenance. This goes for ALL kinds of relationships; lovers, friends, brothers, sisters, parents, children, co-workers, even neighbors. But the equation for deciding whether or not to hold on to a relationship is still no different than that of holding on to our possessions and activities: Does this add any value to my life? Do the pros outweigh the cons?
The trouble is, we are often morally conflicted when it comes to our relationships. “Sure he is lazy, negative, and makes me feel bad about myself. But it would be wrong to just let him go.” “All she does is spend my money, and party all the time. But she really hasn’t done anything malicious.” I have heard many excuses like these.
Here is the truth. People that add no value to our lives are adding no value to their own life, and are likely using us as a crutch. By cutting them off we do both parties a favor. First, we rid our-self of dead weight and bring value back to our lives (obviously). Second, we force them to have to stand on their own whether it is financially, emotionally, spiritually, or whatever. In doing this we force them to make them-self a better person. In essence, by letting them go you are doing more for them than you would be holding on to this destructive relationship.
The majority of my memories as a child with my father were that of me looking up at him while he lectured me. Don’t get me wrong, most of that he said was insightful, and I learned a great deal; but that doesn’t exactly make for a strong bond. Why, because a person who looks down at you while giving you direction asserts them-self as your superior (whether that is their intention or not). Unfortunately human nature dictates that the person down below looking up will feel intimidated (especially for a child) and close them self off from the aggressor. Even if the one below is enlightened by what the aggressor is offering. People only let down their guard to let others in when their approached as an equal. When they are approached at eye level.
Unfortunately that was the way of American generations past. The role of the father was to be the income, the livelihood of the family. It was his job, and his job alone to make sure there was food on the table and a roof over their heads. This responsibility took a great deal of time for many men. So much time in fact that by the time he came home from work, he was exhausted; a quick meal then bed. Beyond that his job was to be the disciplinarian. …….and that was it. It’s all there was time for. And it’s all he knew how to do.
It was the mothers job to raise the children. Feed them, bathe them, teach them, and yes play with them. As a result, it was the mom that formed the strong bond with them.
In modern times this is very different though. Both women and men are in the workforce and as a result they have to split the family duties. And truthfully that is not the only reason for the change. We are more educated now in child development, and as a result fathers can be more involved in their children’s lives. A father can now have the added role of being a daddy. This is a role I take very seriously, and is probably my favorite role to play. But even in these modern times, I still see many fathers not really filling the daddy role.
So to those fathers I say this: Be a daddy, not just a father. Get down on the floor and play with your child; Meet them eye-to-eye. That is how you bond with them. If you don’t, you will lose them. You will never establish a warm bond with them. Do it while they’re young as it is much easier then. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is, and eventually it will be too late.
Too often have I heard older men say “I wish I had spent more time with my kids when they were young, and less time on my career. Now my kids are old and lost to me.” Interesting that I have never heard “I wish I had spent more time on my career, and less on my kids.” To be fair I have heard “I wish I had spent more time on my career.” but those people don’t realize that if they had, then they would had to have spent less time with their families. Then they would have had to deal with the long term repercussions of that.
This morning I attended a little concert my daughters school was having where are the little three and four-year olds (my munchkin included) were singing Christmas songs to us. I was not a big production, but it was beautiful, and it meant a lot to them.
Before the performance I took a look around the room. Not at the stage area, but the audience. I saw that it was surprisingly scarce of parents, fathers in particular. Now I am sure that many of these fathers have good reason not to show, but not all of them. I know this because I have been there before. I heard it from my father, my mother, and from many other parents before. I hear it all the time actually from parents nowadays:
- “I’m not really into those things, my daughter understands.”
- “I couldn’t make it to the performance because I was working a double shift.”
- “I’m not gonna take off from work just because they have a school function, that’s ridiculous.”
Let me start by saying that anyone using anything like excuse number one is clearly not meant to be a parent. This level of selfishness should have been considered before procreating. As a result they will never develop a close bond with their child. Instead they will grow old and wonder why they don’t have that bond.
Excuses numbers two and three hold value as a legitimate reason…….but only if it is necessary for survival. But I do find that the parents that tend to give these reasons are very “well to do”. Reasons like this lose their luster when their coming from a father in an Armani suit speaking to you through the window of their BMW. All this really means is “I am far more interested in buying, keeping, and maintaining these nifty toys than being involved in my child’s life.”
We don’t live to work, people! We certainly don’t live to collect nifty things either. It is time we get our priorities straight. Our lives, and our children’s lives are happening right now. Instead of working your butt off to have and maintain lavish things, spend that time instead with your children. And for those of you who don’t have children, spend time with yourself. Think deeply about what you really want in life.