I have a rule which states to never lend money you can’t stand to see disappear. If someone asks to borrow $100 make sure that Benjamin Franklin can slither from the light of day never to be seen again and you are alright with that. Otherwise do not hand over the bill. Just a personal rule of thumb that has served me well in avoiding unnecessary heartache and stress.
It is also a philosophy I try to incorporate into my parenting. Your kids don’t owe you anything regardless of how you feel. Now I know some people reading this might disagree that they owe you SOMETHINGS; a phone call, a birthday card or visit during the holidays. I am here to burst your proverbial bubble: YOUR CHILDREN DON’T OWE YOU SH*T. If that hurt to read then know it also hurt to type but I guess I should elaborate a bit more on what I mean?
I believe putting things into similar contexts often helps to make the difficult digestible. I think it is a natural human mechanism we use to help explain things in our universe that baffle us. Scientists administer this technique often in experiments; use what you know to help figure out what you don’t know.
The relationship you cultivate with your son or daughter is one that is unique like no other. It changes you as a person. Love does that, unconditional love in particular. We often really don’t break down what it means and I will give you a small example to help clarify. In a normal boyfriend/girlfriend relationship you may throw out the word “love” after a set of conditions are set up for you. Nice dinners, gifts, sexual encounters etc, which all encourage a specific feeling from that other person. These CONDITIONS need continue otherwise that “love” will probably stop. You won’t “love” that person anymore because they have “changed” on you. If your child never made you a card in school or held your hand in public your level of love wouldn’t waiver. It wouldn’t disappear all together because that love has no conditions for it to be reciprocated [i.e. unconditional love]; it just IS. In our own personal relationships we strive towards that but it takes a huge block of consistency with one person and we often waiver.
We are naturally selfish and one of the biggest struggles any parent deals with when having a child is realizing your thoughts, actions and feelings are second fiddle to someone else’s. Could you image living your life and constantly having to see how your co-worker is doing first before you decide to go to lunch?
“Hey Jon planning a trip to Paris with my girlfriend….you good though? Cause if you’re sick I’ll just cancel and come bring you soup”.
Annoying right? Well that’s what being a parent is in a nutshell: ITS NOT ABOUT YOU ANYMORE.
We all aren’t good parents. [I’ll let that one sit for a minute]. Just isn’t possible. We all STRIVE to be good parents but many of us fall short. I would wager most of us feel that we fit into this category and that there is some other person guiding their son or daughter in a way you can’t fathom. Here’ is some good news: that is a complete and utter lie. The more accurate description is that we all struggle with how we view ourselves; we are all infallibly human. On the other end of the spectrum separate from normal insecurities are parents who are just……well…..BAD AT IT. Now this isn’t my attempt to judge anyone but deep down you can sense if or when you aren’t giving it your all. That applies in the gym, at work and at home. The trick is to minimize those moments by staying at it pushing yourself to do better. I know its hard.
After 18 years of constant self sacrifice a little ROI would be nice though huh? I know. I wiped their butts, tears and dishes clean but still can’t get a phone call from my daughter for two consecutive days. I am not complaining. I have unconditional love for my daughters. They never have to do anything for me to feel how I do about them. It could wane but it can never disappear completely.
The funny thing about doing something self sacrificing over and over and over again is that it becomes a state of consciousness that fixates itself to your being; it becomes who you are. You no longer think about it or expect a residual which is exactly when the MAGIC happens.
When you are someone who works hard because you are a hard worker, love because you are loving and are an inspiration to others because you are an inspiring person you will almost ALWAYS be rewarded. THAT person may never ask for it but will always be noticed by others, why? Because quite frankly they’re rare. Aren’t they? In terms of parenthood you will be the mother and father others admire and person your children look up to — not because you asked for it but because you didn’t.
So don’t worry about your reward. Don’t do things for the pay off. Do them because deep down you know and feel they are the correct thing to do. Operate under this guise and your boss [your children] will promote you when you least expect it. Like when you are 85 and are hugging your grandchildren at Thanksgiving. Promise.
-A Single Dad