Monday, September 28, 2009

Knowing when to say something

We are all human beings and as such we interact with one another and form relationships and attachments. Sometimes we are automatically linked to another people like our parents and siblings. Other times we form relationships with people because we enjoy the same activities, have similar political views or simply live near one another.

So, my questions are: What are our responsibilites in these relationships? How much should we involve ourselves in these relationships and the actions of the other person? What can/should we expect from the other person?

Maybe it depends on the relationship.

For instance, what are a parent's responsibilites towards a grown child? I'm sure that if we asked 100 people we could get 100 different job descriptions for a parent. Since I haven't polled 100 people and since this is my blog, we're gonna go with my definition for discussion purposes. For me, a parent is a caretaker and a leader for the child. For the most part, parents are given 18 years in which to shepherd their children in the way that they think is right. That means being there for them.

Really there.

Not just being in the room.

That means asking hard questions and sometimes answering hard questions. It means teaching them that fighting for the things that they believe in is important and crucial and okay. It means saying it's okay for them to say they don't know the answer and helping them figure out where the answer might be found. It means telling them when you think they are doing something that is going to harm their bodies, minds or souls. It means saying "I'm not happy with your actions, but that doesn't mean I love you any less." It means realizing that some day (maybe a lot of days) they are going to disagree with you and probably not do the thing you think they should. They (probably) aren't doing it to hurt you. They are not you. You are not them. It's their life, but you're supposed to BE there for it. Whether they are 6 or 16 or 60.

I think the same goes for our spouses and siblings and friends. Until we all develop the ability to hear one another's thoughts, we need to speak to one another. If we care about that person, we should say something. Your girlfriend probably doesn't want to hear if you think the man she's dating is bad for her. Your spouse probably doesn't want to hear you're unsatisfied with your love life. Your sibling probably doesn't want to hear that they've made choices in their life you disagree with. Those are scary things to say/hear. After all, that could mean the end of a relationship. But if things are broken, they don't get fixed by ignoring the problem.

So perhaps sometimes I say too much. Perhaps sometimes I should be more aloof and guarded. Perhaps I should just mind my own business. Unfortunately I don't see me doing that any time soon. Hopefully those who I have relationships with know this about me and love me in spite of it. Hopefully they know I love them because I tell them - because I am THERE for them mentally and physically - because I care enough to argue with them.

I'm very thankful for those people in my life who do the those things for me. I don't always want to hear what they have to say, but hopefully I am learning that just because we don't agree doesn't mean they don't love me. Hopefully I am letting them help to make me into a better person.

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