Do you ever wonder about some of the decisions you’ve made? To label them “good” or “bad”? To evaluate the ways you’ve tried to show love? How things might have turned out if you had made different choices?
From time-to-time I do that — although usually from a starting point of gratitude and appreciation. Granted, I’ve made my share of decisions that didn’t look too wonderful — especially in the short term. But I feel blessed to have developed the ability to find value in the struggles and to be a bit more forgiving. It doesn’t always look like ball players from opposing teams struggling to come away with the ball: I have come to believe that, in any given moment, we all do the best we can with what we’ve got. And, as the great poet said, “When we know better, we do better.”
A successful businessman I know questioned the choices he’d made when his children were really young. Like so many people striving to build careers and provide for their families, he wondered if he’d been home enough. Especially when his marriage ended.
“Something surprising happened when my 17-year-old son came to live with me: we got very close and talked a lot. He had played Little League baseball, and, in his junior year added basketball. But he told me the only reason he’d played basketball was to make me happy. It just floored me: I thought he liked it. But he said it was because I told him that he had to do things and get involved and be successful. When he said it, it hurt a little bit and felt good at the same time.”
How do we support our partners, kids, and friends without pressuring them to do things solely to please us? Especially now that research tells us that complimenting kids on effort and accomplishment (v. how they “are”) works better for many of them. What is best way to communicate our expectations for behavior and our unconditional love?…. to let them know we love them more than basketball. Just because.