Today’s episode is a listener inspired episode. A Guy named Christopher from Wisconsin went to the web site and wrote to me, he asked a question about recovering relationships…or repairing them.
In the case Chris wrote about he was estranged from his father, sounds like due to a marital breakup and his dads military service which made him absent much of the time. They got back together for three years when Chris was a teenager and then they separated again when he was 16…and have not spoken since.
First of all, thank you Chris for writing to me about this and asking what the right course of action in this situation is. Sadly…lots of people out there are in similar situations. Christopher’s last sentence in his letter is spot on; he said
“I don’t want to lose him because I was too bullheaded to reach out”.
In a way Chris answered his own question with that one sentence.
There are so many children and fathers that have had their relationship interrupted by divorce, by work, and by the court systems, it’s a huge problem.
Many times, like in Chris’ case, boy’s get reunited with their father in their teens for various reasons. He said his father did help him out and taught him some great stuff but it sounds like their relationship was strained and difficult. Which is kind of natural and normal after being apart for so long.
Look, Dad’s are people too. They have feelings and heartaches and they make huge mistakes sometimes. Some dads are more mature and rational than other dads are. Being human, some dad’s are better able to foster a relationship with their children than other dads.
Life was not designed to be fair, and regardless of your particular situation you have to play the cards you were dealt to the best of your ability regardless of what anyone else is doing. I believe that’s one of your obligations as a man.
You guys listening to this might even become a dad in this situation, or you might already be in a similar situation. No two situations are identical either…they all have different elements, personalities, and difficulties. Every family situation is unique.
However, there are some things that are the same regardless of what your circumstance is. One of those things is the importance of family.
There are a lot of guys like Chris’ dad who will not make the first move. Some of them are being ran by guilt, they feel like they failed as a father and don’t deserve a second chance. Some of them might feel like so much time has passed…there isn’t any hope and their kids are better off without them, still other fathers might be afraid of anger and rejection from their children. Then there are some…the bad dads, that really couldn’t care less and don’t want to be bothered.
I believe, that in any situation involving emotional conflict with another adult human there is a course of action that will yield the best results and allow you to move on regardless of the outcome.
You have to be the larger person, you have to make the first move. Put your pride aside, you have to be willing to risk rejection and anger and heartache. You have to calmly put aside past injuries and reach out to that other person in an honest, authentic way. Because family matters…relationship matters, and if you don’t try you will never know, and that would be truly tragic.
In my opinion one of life’s ultimate goals is to get to the end of it with as few regrets as possible. Don’t be the guy lying on your death bed being regretful that you never reached out to your child, or to your dad. Don’t lay there sad because you were a small person in life. Be the bigger person.
Of course in the case of abusive people, or mean dangerous chemically altered people or people of extreme low character I would have different advice. But most people don’t fall into those categories. Most people are just flawed human beings that make mistakes who want to love and be loved. For those people…I say try.
The second bit of advice I have goes like this; if you try to repair a lost or damaged relationship be careful to not go into it with inflated expectations…you must be prepared to accept these people exactly how they are, not how you imagined you wanted them to be all your life. Accept and know them as people first…their faults and their virtues, and then as your dad, son, or other family member.