Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Shortly after his 13th birthday, our son took on his father. The preteen years had been rough for him, and the relationship between these two was often a bit percussive. One day, after the hundredth in a series of power clashes with his father, our son came into the study where I was working and began to complain. I gave him my usual speech, saying, “If you have a problem with your father you need to go talk to your father. I’d be glad to go with you if you want, but your problem is with him so you need to talk to him.” I spoke this pre-recorded message with all the enthusiasm of a bored government worker in a mindless job, fully expecting my advice would go unheeded, as usual.

This time, however, instead of skulking away to pout and mutter, he walked into the living room and declared, “Dad, you and I need to talk. I need you to respect me more.” That sentence began a 2 hour conversation in which they hammered out a new way to do their relationship.

Later my husband described what it was like for him to have had this conversation.

“It was the weirdest thing. I felt like I was split in pieces. Part of me thought, ‘How dare you confront me like this! If I had even thought about saying such things to my father, he’d have beaten me into a bloody pulp.’ But then another part of me thought, ‘I’m so proud of you for having the guts to sit down and talk like this.’ But most of me felt at a complete loss. I knew it was an important moment, and I needed to not blow it. But when I reached for some wisdom, scrambled for some idea of the right thing to do in this pivotal situation, I realized I had nothing to draw from – nothing. My fathering well was empty. I figured the best I could do was just listen and kept my mouth shut, and maybe it would turn out all right.”

And it did. It turned out all right.

But I’ll never forget the way my husband felt, torn between his father, his son, and his own soul.

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