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Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts

>> 6 May 2008

You don't choose your family, you are born into one.

No matter how hard they try and even by doing the best they can, your parents are very likely to f**k you up (see also the book 'They f*** you up' by Oliver James). Some of us realise this sooner, some later. And it isn't until we realise this, that we are able to distance ourselves from them as adults, to become our own standalone selves.

When we become a parent ourselves, we become a little bit wiser. We also start to understand a few things about our own parents. Because: being a parent is not easy. It is hard because the moment the offspring is born and you start to love them to pieces, you also have to start letting them go.

And I guess parents can never entirely let their children go. My dad is the best example of that. Even though I am married with two kids, he still likes to 'meddle' with our lives. Not in a bad way - he always means well - but it feels a bit invasive at times :-) He is very much a DIY kind of guy. He can make something out of nothing, repair everything and if you ask him for a certain tool or item you can be sure he has it in his workshop (he keeps and stores EVERYTHING). That's why we like him.

What we like less is when he comes to our house unannounced to take away our garden furniture in order to sand and paint it.

What we do not appreciate is when he goes into the garden and puts all the pieces of the to be mounted swing-set on top of each other in a corner so that the grass does not go yellow underneath. For the record: these items had all been spread out neatly by number and in the order they were supposed to be mounted and we had to spread them out all over again...

What we find annoying is when we notice after he left that he has moved things in the garage - just because he thinks it is better to put them there instead of here.

What bothers us is the fact that he just does these things without asking our permission. We would probably have said yes to the sanding and painting of the garden furniture. But him taking it, just ruined the whole idea.

What irritates us is that by doing things a certain way, HIS way, he indirectly tells us that OUR way is wrong.

I do not come from a family that talks much - I mean, we talk, but not about the really important things like problems, feelings etc. So telling my dad that these gestures were not appreciated and why, was a major step for me. I first called my mom to let off some steam. Then I let a few days pass. Finally, I confronted my dad.

What can I say...? It's like he shuts down to this kind of conversations. Yes, he heard me. Yes, he will ask in the future. But did he understand why? No. And will he stop doing the things he does? Probably not.

I know he is probably not going to change - not until he understands our point of view. And he is just a stubborn kind of guy that won't admit he can be wrong. It runs in the family :-)

But I am glad and a bit proud that at least I am now able to talk to him about these things.

Thanks to Sunday Scribblings for triggering this post about Family.


Anonymous,  7 May 2008 at 10:50  

Kudos to you for saying something to your dad. I think after 18 years of training, it's difficult for parent's to stop interfering in the lives of their children.

Anonymous,  8 May 2008 at 11:15  

The conversation has started... which is cool. Sometimes the conversation never starts and there is great sadness in that. And must agree. Becoming a parent is such an exercise in humility.

Mindful Mimi 8 May 2008 at 15:39  

Solomon, thanks. I agree, and I am sure I will be the same with my boys once they have left the nest :-)

Mandy, thanks. I have the feeling that conversation is one-sided and unilateral though. But as you said, it's a start.

Liza on Maui 9 May 2008 at 06:31  

Thanks for sharing about your family. We learn from each other ... and yes, when we become parents, we understand more where our parents are coming from...

DebMc 13 May 2008 at 02:25  

That's a great quote you've chosen to start your post with. Sweet and nutty kinda puts our family challenges in perspective, doesn't it?

I lost my dad when I was twenty-five. He was young, too, just forty-seven. We just never had the chance to really know each other as adults.

You keep hanging in there with your dad...it's worth the effort.

Janet 26 May 2008 at 17:43  

I loved this post for many reasons. Even for the fact that it made me think I'll never "get it" cause I didn't have children. Thank you for making me think :-)

Mindful Mimi 26 May 2008 at 17:59  

Liza - understanding a bit more but still never totally :-)

Deb - sorry about your dad. I believe in 'there's a reason for everything' and though it may sound harsh or silly sometimes, it is mostly true if we spend the time thinking about why things are happening to us

Janet - I guess having children helps, but it's not the only solution. I got to talking a bit more to my dad and although he will never understand me, I get to understand him a little better. And you don't necessarily need children for that.

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