Relationships 101 Taught by My Kids
I didn’t make good choices when it came to relationships and marriage. In fact, it got so bad, I removed myself from the pool entirely over 20 years ago, and am trying to figure out how to re-open that door nowadays. As such, I gave my daughters a pretty lousy example of what a healthy relationship should look like. My son-in-law’s parents didn’t do any better. So you’d think neither of them would have a clue what a good relationship looks like, much less, how to create one for themselves.
Nothing could be further from the truth. My daughter and son-in-law have one of the most loving, extraordinary relationships I’ve ever seen. It’s not that what they have is perfect, but they don’t expect it to be. They know there are times they’ll piss each other off, and times when one or the other simply has to back down, or get out of the way while the other blows off steam. I’ve learned if I stay out of their way, and keep my well-intentioned advice and opinion to myself, they’ll work it out and get back to the strong, formidable, singularly focused unit they promised to be when they exchanged vows 8 years ago.
A Different Perspective
My generation saw an inordinate number of divorces; mine only a blip on the radar on the statistical superhighway. Perhaps I’m seeing an unlikely cross-section, but the marriages I see from my daughter’s generation; OK, mostly her friends, are some of the most strong, resilient, unwavering I’ve seen in decades. I’d even venture to say, they’ve restored my faith in the institution.
I’m not sure why they’re doing a better job of it than I did; than my peers did. Maybe it’s simply the fact that I and my peers didn’t teach our kids the same thing our parents did. Marriage was never the be-all, end-all of their existence. In some ways, choosing marriage because it was what they wanted instead of going into it because of maternal pressure might be the key ingredient necessary to make better choices in the first place.
Though I wasn’t especially young when I married, I know I was feeling the pressure of still being single at 25. I grabbed the first proposal I got, and never learned how to be happy with myself before choosing a mate. Instead, I attached myself to someone who was as broken, and self-loathing as me, and who would ultimately feed my own self-loathing to push himself a little higher up the food chain.
Same Experiences, Different Results
That’s not to say my daughter, and likely many of her friends didn’t kiss a few frogs, and suffer a bad relationship or two first. They had the good sense to learn and walk away. It only took me 11 years of marriage, and another 10 years beyond that to realize I was better, and deserved someone who loved me without conditions or expectations. I it took me a little longer to figure out it had to start with me.
My daughter might have had self-love issues when she started dating her now-husband, but instead of feeding them for her, he starved them and allowed her to finally see what an amazing person she is, and how much she deserves to be loved and supported. He also gave her an incredible gift by allowing her to support him as well. The man I married as well as those I’ve dated didn’t understand either of those concepts, but then, my own examples didn’t either. Thankfully, my daughter learned from our mistakes instead of repeating them for yet another generation.
Watching my daughter and son-in-law, and many of their friends navigate the ups and downs of their marriages, I’m encouraged not only because I see more examples of how people can build successful lives together, but because I am confident future generations will learn from the example of these couples and parents, and form stronger, healthier relationships.
Who’s the “Me Generation” This Week?
I’ve raised my daughters, and they’re making their own choices now. They don’t need my approval or blessing any more, though one still asks on occasion. Perhaps watching me struggle, and keep falling down gave them the drive to make better lives for themselves than I made for me while they were growing up. I’m awfully proud of the changes they’ve made in outlook and expectations in spite of the examples I set.
So many negative traits are attributed to Millennials, that things like this are often overlooked. If you ask me most of them are simply doing what we did at their age; learning to navigate a world that’s not always friendly or forgiving.
If I remember correctly, there was a time Boomers were called “the me generation” too. But it’s many Millenials who have actually figured out we’re better together, having each other’s backs than we are trying to stand alone against the world.
Being an Island Told My Kids what Not to Do
I tried for years to be a strong, self-sufficient island. I learned the hard way there were far too many things I couldn’t do alone, and doing without wasn’t a viable option either. Islands get battered by waves, winds, and storms just like communities, but have fewer resources to not only withstand the abuse, but to rebuild after the more damaging episodes.
No generation gets it all wrong any more than they get it all right. Each one learns something from the mistakes of those which came before, correcting their own trajectory in some cases, over-correcting in others. Yet somehow, we all find our own true North eventually, even if it’s not the one that will lead to a happy, healthy, productive life for those who come after. How could it when the world changes so rapidly, and adaptation is the only real option?
Change is inevitable, and frankly, the ones who adapt to it more easily are going to create structures and methods more likely to survive the whims of both Nature and Man in the centuries to come. The wars and turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s drove too many of us into ennui and apathy. We’re seeing the results not only in the external chaos, but in all the broken marriages, and dysfunctional relationships we created along the way. Thank goodness our kids wanted to be different than we were, and to change the world in ways we couldn’t even envision.
Looking Backward and Forward With Gratitude
My gratiitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning from my kids.
- I’m grateful I stopped believing the examples I’d been set made sense.
- I’m grateful for the social consciousness our kids are more responsible for exhibiting and teaching.
- I’m grateful for a world where change is not only inevitable, but valuable.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, lessons, change, inspiration, community, support, self-love, opportunities, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.
If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward