I am in one of the most energetic and mentally focused periods of my life at the current time.
I am focusing all of my efforts on trying to bring a new balance and understanding to the lives of my adult children which is fractious between them at times.
There seems to be an underlying theme in the complaints that we hear as their parents, that we have among them a favourite, or we fail to acknowledge failings in our children perceived in them, by one or other of our adult children.
My wife has been experiencing some lows recently after being accused of taking one side or the other in the disputes which arise.
I have sat down with my wife and I have advised her in future to listen and say “Hmmm”
What I mean by this, is that she acknowledges what she has heard, but that she does not try to take the other point of view, just to be with it, to let the “injured” party see that she/we have listened.
Of course, then there is the bigger picture in all of this – our adult children don’t always get on and I have experienced a profound sense of failure over this in the past, and my wife cries, which I find unbearable.
Have we been perfect parents – No
Could we have done things differently – Yes
Hang on a minute William – we have done the best we could – we nurtured, loved, provided, supported them and we will continue to do so.
Whilst my wife is at the coal face of the disputes which arise, I have been talking to her about my role as strategist.
It’s about the long view I tell her, taking the time to change the dynamic by getting close to each on my adult children – my wife already is – it is I that has the catching up to do.
My inward development has provided me with an array of “tools” to deploy in my battle to bring my family together, to heal wounds where I can.
My first tool is to acknowledge that I might fail – I accept now that I might fail in my endeavors
My next is expansive thinking – trying to enable my adult children to question their own judgments, to own them if they believe them to be right, to change them if they find on closer scrutiny that they are wrong, but to widen their perspective in the process.
I want to broaden the context of their thinking to be able to recognise what it is in them that causes the hurt, rather than assuming that it is a force coming from another party – for the most part I think the hurt comes from within – I want them to discover for themselves what that is and to confront it as I have done.
I want them to realise that whilst ultimately I cannot force my adult children to be friends, I want to be a part of their lives, my love is not conditional on a favourable outcome, however desirable that may be.
I want each of my adult children to feel safe in their relationship with me and their mother and I want to encourage them to build up a network of opportunity for speaking and listening to each other, to break down views they have of each other which are becoming more and more entrenched.
So I won’t be the great adjudicator in their disputes, I will be their dad, their mentor their friend.
My next blog will be: Viva Espana!