What will you leave behind this year?
We have reached that part of the year we are ready to make changes. These changes are often short-lived because we struggle with giving things up and letting things go. We want to add something new to our lives that we feel will make us better, The problem is we don’t always want to give something up to make room for it.
This was driven home for me the other day as my wife was sharing the experience she and my oldest son had at a special Fire Communion held at our local Unitarian Universalist Church. The culmination of this particular event was writing something down on a piece of paper that each of the participants didn’t want to take with them into the new year. Then they took those papers and tossed them into a fire to symbolically let those things go.
Are you ready for the gut punch?
My son wrote down on his piece of paper, “My bad relationship with my dad.”
Yes, you read that right.
My son wants to let go of the bad relationship that we are having. He wants to make room for a better relationship, one the feeds his growing emotional needs, which is something that it seems I am struggling to provide him. I am fortunate because he wants to improve our relationship and because he didn’t just burn the paper he made sure to let me know what he wrote. In his own way he has asked me for help in this endeavor, and after all it takes two to tango.
It is important to note that for the most part I am a pretty good dad, and he is a pretty good kid. We just struggle to see eye-to-eye right now. As we stand here at the precipice of his teenage years it is clear my approach needs to shift.
So I am letting things go that drive a wedge between this 11 year old boy and me. Together we are slowly constructing new norms for our relationship so that I can embrace and succeed in my role as his father without rendering miserable his experience as a child/preteen/teenager. We both recognize that I have the responsibilities to teach, guide, and discipline, but my tone doesn’t always foster an environment for him to hear and understand what I have to say. Likewise his desire to be heard doesn’t always foster that environment either.
So we are letting go of those behaviors that don’t foster understanding. We are working hard at identifying what works so we can do more of it. As we do that we are identifying what does not work and letting it go to make room for the good relationship we both want to have now and long into the future.