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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Parenting with Multiple Myeloma -- Part II

My riding partner used to work for a living
He take the backseat of all that he was given

He let you rise and take the fall
He'll take the chain
He'll take the ball
He was my favorite friend of all

-- Kings of Leon

Not too long ago we had one of those family meetings with one of our kids. These are the ones you don't want to have, but in order to keep your kids on track, they need to happen. We're pretty progressive in our parenting; at least compared to how we were brought up, or compare to what you would assume if you knew were, say, church-going-believers. That's not to say we've abandoned everything we learned from our own parents or the old time believers. Much of what we stand for came from them; but also it's tempered by our own decades of living, and it's colored by the realities of modern life. In end, though, we are also pretty strict when it comes to the relatively few requirements we place on our kids.

Having cancer doesn't give you a free pass 
from family problems.

In the end I think the only real end goal I can fight for is: I hope my kids accept that we are always their friend; and we always have been. It might seem to them like we're tyrants and our rules are arbitrary; or that we're hard on them. We require excellence, but give freedom. We're not placating, but we are encouraging. We do not foster false hopes. We make the hard decisions and we stay true to our beliefs. Like any good friend, we do not allow our kids to live up to less. We're not necessarily always friendly.

For me the scene above always delivered a strong message of love between two people. In this case it's two people from different cultures, different values, different pasts and futures. But some things translate. Friends do not always get along. Friends sometimes tell you the hard truths, ones that lesser people would let slip by. Sometimes friends have to let you find out for yourself. But in the end, different people can connect to and love each other.

Seeing my kids grow up and now depart from the nest (as it were) brings to mind such devotion. To understand, you need to watch the movie closely, and you have to watch a child grow and become an adult. The two men in this scene are not initially friendly, and in fact the one declaring the friendship was the more reluctant one. Parents aren't usually on the more-reluctance side, but my sentiment to my children is the same.

The other aspect of the video is that kids give back to you something that you thought you'd lost. But it's something you needed all along. They had it, but in the end you're glad they had it, and when they give it back it's more.

Sometimes our kids feel like we're coming down on them or being too strict, or whatever. Sometimes it feels like we're pressing too many rules. When they are heading out on their own into an unknown future, one thing I hope they remember is we are their friends, we will always be their friend.

Do you see that you are my friend?
Can you see that I will always be your friend?

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