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I recently read somewhere that we shouldn't measure how many years we have left with our parents but rather the number of times we have remaining to be with them. This was especially poignant for me because my parents live on the other side of the world, and I only see them once a year. So, instead of saying I may have ten years left with them (which gives the illusion of abundant time), I really should say that I only have 10 times left with them.
Realizing this made me really rethink the quality of my relationship with my dad. While my relationship with my mother is straightforward, I have a rather complex relationship with my father. We love each other dearly but we are rather different as people - or perhaps too similar. However, what I did come to realize is that I have been too willing to accept a mediocre relationship with him because I always thought I would have time "later" to make it better. But we never know how many laters there really are.
Here's another really striking realization that hit me like a slap in the face - I wanted my father to accept my current life choices, validate my point of view, and to stop treating me like the person I was 20 years ago. I had never considered that those were exactly the same things my father wanted from me and never got. I was resenting him for exactly the same things I was doing to him. I was actively contributing to the distance in our relationship.
There's a reason that expectations are referred to as the "burden" of expectations. Because they are. As long as you carry them, they poison every interaction, and every moment with that person. More importantly, you feel the weight of it every day - dragging your energy down. As soon as I realized this, I made a decision to let it go. It wasn't easy but it was worth it. I immediately felt lighter for it and started enjoying my father again.
So, this Father’s Day (and every day from here on), stop buying your father (or mother) useless gadgets and tools. Gift them your full acceptance instead. I promise it’ll not just change both of your lives, but you’ll enjoy them more as well. If you're a father, you could take the exact same steps to change your relationship with your children.
Click the button below to learn how to give your loved ones the gift of full acceptance (or to get a glimpse into my childhood!).
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