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As a parent, it has always been important to instill good morals and values in my children’s lives.  The “lead by example” technique is the path my husband and I chose.  For the most part, our children, who are now young adults, have exhibited sound judgment and have made good choices.  Along the way we have struggled with many ideas and how to help the kids see things properly in spite of what they thought they were seeing others do.

It was a two year battle with my oldest daughter.  “It” being life.  Every turn, every experience, every event...a fight to the finish!  Usually with both of us furious and not speaking.  My position was, “i’m the parent” and i held steadfast to it.  Her position was, “i’m 18 years old and you can’t tell me what to do!”  Oddly, i was rarely telling her what to “do“, but advising her my opinion in hopes that she would look at a bigger picture rather than just the here and now of it all (at least in my eyes that was what i was doing).  After she moved out, declaring that i was impossible to live with, i decided that i was not going to argue with her anymore...period.  I did not call her, EVER.  If she needed to speak with me (which was rare), she would text me and I would answer her question.  I did not ask what she was doing, where she was, who she was running with, how was her job, etc.  Oddly, i slept just fine...actually i probably slept better with that chaos out of my life.  

I am a thinker...i think about things a LOT.  It drives my husband wild but it serves me well.  I no longer have my father to talk to, to add clarity to a situation, to help me see the “bigger picture” so it sometimes takes me awhile to get where i need to be with a situation in which i am struggling.  After months of “thinking” about things, it came to me.  I was no longer instilling my values on my children...i was imposing them onto my children.  My oldest is nearing 21 and has her own set of morals and values...some coincide with mine, others completely contradict mine.  I have come to realize that this is okay.  She will reap the benefits of her decisions as well as pay the consequences.  I had to learn to stop taking things so personally and also to stop taking the blame for her mistakes.  This is part of the “detachment” i’ve heard was so necessary (and sometimes quite painful) to go through in order for my children to lead their own lives.  I resisted it...but i honestly think i did so only because i didn’t recognize it.

I’ve come to learn that the detachment will come NOT at my convenience...but when the child is ready.  The child will dictate the time and it’s up to me, the parent, to recognize it.  My second daughter is 18 and has already exhibited that she is ready and i have handled the transition with far more grace than i did with my oldest.  On the one hand, i’m proud of myself for learning...on the other hand, i’m beating myself up for handling my oldest so poorly.  In recent months our relationship has taken a very good turn for the better but there is still that ugly history between us.  

I know what is good for me and she knows what is good for her.  Sometimes we agree, sometimes we do not.  The irony of all this?  In my late teens and most of my twenties, my father and I had a rough time.  It was only after i decided that it was okay if my father didn’t agree with me did we begin to have the flourishing relationship we enjoyed until the day he died.  If i’d only been paying better attention with my daughter, i’d have probably been able to avoid the 2+ years of hell we’ve been through.  

On this Father’s Day weekend, i will be smiling...because, even though my Dad isn’t physically here, his love and guidance continues to inspire me to figure it all out.


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