A few years back, I identified my relationship with my daughter as an area that had the potential to greatly improve my life. At the time, I was devoting excessive energy to her via worry and stress. She was always in my mind, even when I was away from her.
How can we reduce the impact of our not-helpful obsessions within our minds?
I use two techniques:
- Be kind and generous to as many people as possible – lots of tiny actions
- Express the same habit, directly, to the person with whom I want to improve my relationship
Now, it’s important to bear in mind that it only takes one person to torpedo a relationship. So I might not be successful.
That’s OK – “success” isn’t my goal.
If the goal isn’t “success” then what is it?
Take a minute and consider what your words to your children indicate about your definition of success.
When I’m stressed, my words might indicate a desire for compliance, quiet and solitude. Is that what my family really needs?
Those same desires can be satisfied via personal, internal serenity within whatever relationship I have with people.
What’s this have to do with the “one-on-one” trip?
Taking the toughest member of the family on a road trip was a way to “step up” within my household. I’ve been taking my oldest on the road since she could walk.
My young children have a simple agenda with me…”do stuff with Dad.”
It’s simple, but not easy.
It’s not easy because “dad” has a preference for strong coffee and exercising uphill. I also like to be left alone to read, write and think.
To do fatherhood “right.” I have to make the commitment to be with my child, on the child’s terms.
A habit of service spills over into other aspects of my life, for example my marriage.
- Just me and the child
- Focus on doing things the kid likes
- Never more than three nights away
- If the kid is awake then my agenda is put to one side
Truth be told, the trips started as a way to get my Alpha Child out of the house. The fact that I ended up with better relationships with everyone was an unexpected bonus from seven years of sticking with it.
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