I recently received birthday cards from my son and daughter expressing how appreciative they are of my efforts to be their father. Of course, the process was not all perfect, but they were able to see that my intentions were good and sincere. Their recognition of my efforts reminded me of my challenges on the path to this point.
Parenting offers the choices of conflict or growth.
My role as a parent has brought amazing moments of joy as well as heartfelt sorrow. There are certainly past decisions and actions I would do differently if I was able to have a “Do Over”. Since that is not available, the best I can do is to acknowledge my mistakes both to myself and my children.
What stands out the most to me, is my narrow view of who my kids are, or I should say, who I want them to be. It took me a long time to realize that each of them is a unique personality and being. I failed to recognize that we might have differing points of view, beliefs, values and overall attitudes about how the world works.
My lack of acceptance and tolerance for who my children really are created conflict and turmoil in our relationships that made it difficult to be in loving, supportive connection. My attitude shifted a few years back, prompted by one of my best friends. It turned out that he has very strong and different beliefs than I do. Yet we were able to be respectful and caring toward each other, enabling us to continue our much-valued friendship.
Though it has been and continues to be a journey, I have been able to apply that lesson to my relationship with my kids, creating a more harmonious connection. We owe it to ourselves and our families to set the example of conscious parenting by being caring, supportive and accepting of differences while at the same time being true to who we are as individuals.
In hindsight, it comes down to making the choice of conflict or growth. Many times, this means it is up to us as parents to make the overture and do the work of repairing the bridge.