My son and I were in the car one night when he started to tell me of an argument he had with his father.
He was very hurt by his father’s actions and wanted to know why people said and did hurtful things.
I felt so bad for him.
He adored his dad and I knew that during the divorce, things might be said and done that could hurt my son.
I knew that I was powerless over my husband and his actions… that I could only work on things from my end… and so I told my son that I had never much liked the fact that we were powerless over other people.
I could tell that he was happy that I felt the same way that he did.
I said that I knew that his dad loved him very much but, that sometimes, people said or did things that really had nothing to do with us.
It may seem like they were directing their anger or hurtful comments our way, but really, they were dealing with their own set of issues.
I told him that didn’t mean we had to accept that type of behavior.
He could tell his father that his feelings were hurt.
He could tell his father that he didn’t like when he treated him poorly but… he could not control his father’s actions.
That night, I heard him speak to his dad on the phone.
He told his father that he had hurt his feelings earlier that day.
I couldn’t hear my husband’s response, but I didn’t need to.
I knew then, that my son had taken the first step in admitting that he was powerless over his father’s actions, and that he did have power over his own.
He could let his father know that what he said had hurt him.
He could let his feelings be known.
He had no control over the outcome but… he could be heard.
“Dear God, help me to remember that I am powerless over others. I cannot control a loved one’s actions or attitudes but I can work on my own.”
That’s a very powerful lesson. Even in our powerlessness we can control our own reaction to a situation.
I am proud every moment I hear my children feel strength enough to admit and claim their feelings and express them about the hurt they have experienced. I try to encourage their openness and explain that they are entitled to their own feelings, and can (and should) express them in a respectful way. The biggest lesson I think I have been teaching them about the divorce is that THEY get to decide how they want to include people in their lives based on the actions of that person, and they shouldn’t feel guilty about their personal decisions. If someone doesn’t meet a standard of character we value, we can choose to limit that person’s involvement in our lives, regardless of title. Forgiving doesn’t equate to forgetting. But respect for others only reflects respect for ourselves.
You are absolutely right. I’m so glad you are teaching your children this early on… they deserve to be respected…. and learn that sometimes we have to have people in our life on a limited basis due to their lack of boundaries or wounded-ness. D.