It is Father’s Day, 2013. Three of my children are sleeping in other rooms in the house and my oldest is in Phoenix. It’s nice to have them here and I miss the oldest… A LOT!
I noted on Facebook, that generally, I do not celebrate Fathers Day. My response has always been that every day is Father’s Day. But I was reprimanded by someone (a few someones) that this is selfish. It robs those who love me of their chance to have a day to celebrate me. So I admitted that I would give in. Yay Me! (and other Fathers too).
To that end, some thoughts and reflections on being a father, our peaceful home, and the pain of apologies.
Parenting is Not Babysitting
I’ve told this story before but it is worth repeating today.
Many years ago, I was at the park with my children. They were much younger. While we played on swings, slide, etc., I older woman and I got to talking. She said, “It’s nice to see you babysitting your kids; giving mom a break.”
I responded, “I’m not babysitting them. I’m parenting them.” I didn’t respond to her in anger or even much annoyance but I want that message out there because I heard similar things all the time.
I didn’t (and do not) take my kids hiking, to the beach, to the park, etc, to give mom a break. I took them there because that is what I most enjoy doing. And I certainly wasn’t logging the hours to either be paid or divvy up time in some mathematical equation.. ie: “I had them 6 hours yesterday, it is your turn to give me some alone time.”
But I’ve heard such things from fathers… It’s bizarre to me. STOP IT!
Story: The Science of Fatherhood
Peaceful is funny
Yesterday we went to the beach. A friend of one my kids joined us and on the drive home, she commented that she liked our home. She said it was “peaceful.”
This caused my youngest and I to burst out laughing. Peaceful is NOT how we, who view it from the inside, picture our home. This may be the same for your family; for many families. Families live with themselves and have to balance both the dirt and shine that others might see. Families of divorce might be working to balance that even more so.
Interestingly enough (“interesting” is my euphemistic term for almost anything – here it could mean sad), a disagreement between my kids right as we dropped off this friend, resulted in a heated exchange and some hurt. The friend didn’t really see this but it was an ironic demonstration of why her perception of peace was funny to us.
The end result was an apology, a hug, a promise to try to do better… love is a sometimes forced action but that is okay!
Something about apologies
Earlier in the day, one of my children responded to me “pushing niceness” with some annoyance. I responded, annoyed and then angry. I went to the store, and came home; then I apologized. They did too – and all was well.
During the heated moment first mentioned to above, as we dropped off the friend, I was speaking to one of the parties involved and I talked about my earlier apology. Their response was that by apologizing, the other person would think they are right. To which I said, “If that is in fact true, so what?”
I’m being intentionally vague about the who’s involved because the who matters far less than the what.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” – Phil 2:5-8
Apologies are hard! I mean true apologies. It is a bit dramatic to say that apologies are like being nailed to a cross; but for the sake of discussion let’s just say that they are. Apologies hurt our egos and require us to become nothing – even if for a moment.
The bible passage above is very intense. Your “rightness” or your position is meaningless. Boo hoo on you. You DO NOT get to consider yourself. The passage continues to explain that the result was that Christ was exalted. Our apologies and our willingness to make them, has a similar result.
For some reason, people (by people, I mean ME) love carefully qualifying their apology. We are careful to create a clear demarcation of what it is we are apologizing for. Heaven forbid we apologize and accidentally give any ground or room that our apology is broader than this small slice of ground!
“I am sorry for getting annoyed” and “I’m sorry for getting angry,” are better than, “I’m sorry for getting angry.. it is just that your words hurt me.”
The second is an explanation of why you are apologizing. You are really saying, “I apologize that I responded to your jerk behavior with anger but please make note of your jerk behavior because that is why I responded in this way and therefore, you caused my need to apologize.” You are pointing out why THE OTHER PERSON NEEDS to apologize.
Hint: Your apology is not/should not be contingent. Whether the other person should or should not; does or does not; apologize is meaningless. That is for them to work out.
In fact, “I’m sorry for hurting you.” Or “I’m sorry for being a jerk.” – might be better than “I’m sorry for getting angry.” The latter seems to leave too much open – ie: why was I angry?
In the end, apologies are a big thing though; one of the biggest things.
Peaceful with a passion
Back to someone referring to our family as peaceful… Jess and I talked about it a bit. Our family is NOT peaceful… partially because everyone is passionate and opinionated. Discussions can and do escalate! But the love is fierce too! It needs to be! It had better be or else we are sunk!
When I think about my child’s friend who considers us peaceful, I am left thinking a couple things.
One: She would discover different if she lived with us.
Two: Safe may be a better explanation of what she sees/saw.
Our family is safe. Not safe in some barricaded, no danger sort of way. Life isn’t like that. Safe is more representative of our fierce love and desire to love. It is, hopefully, represented by our willingness to forgive each other.
We are all jerks in our time. We need grace and in our family we seem intent upon proving this point often. In the end, and up to this point, we have been willing to give it.
If your family doesn’t need grace – and if apologies are not needed or given frequently – than your family is doing great.. except for the lying.
For Father’s Day, I want peaceful with a passion. I want to apologize more quickly and completely. I want our home to be safe because we need and we give grace.