One of my greatest joys in life is spending time with my children and grandchildren. As my children were young, I had to place a distinction between being their father and being their friend. But after teaching them the fundamentals of life and they past the horrific trials of pubescence, I began changing my relationship with them. Although many parents will disagree with me, I believe that is the time to start letting go and letting them begin their journey in life. Yes, they will do things you do not approve of and there will be many sleepless nights as they get older, but just like us, they need to learn for themselves the hardest lessons in life by trial and error.
One reason I chose this road in parenthood is that as wonderful as my parents were, I just could not talk to them about many things going on in my life. I had to turn to friends, parents of friends or in most cases, my older sister. Teenagers and up, they need someone that they can talk to uncensored.
Do not get me wrong, I have my boundaries. As early as possible, I told my children that they could talk to me about anything. Whether I approved of it, agreed with them did not matter. I would listen and not hold it against them for being honest with me about problems that they were facing at the time. It is not an easy thing to do as a parent, but for me it is an essential element in establishing a long-term relationship with them, as they grow older.
One example, is I let my kids know early in life that if they ever were arrested for something that they did wrong, not to call me to bail them out. They could call their mother, siblings, friends, but not me. And because of our relationship, they knew that I would let them sit there in jail without hesitation if they were guilty. If not, I would defend them with everything I could.
Now that they are adults, I love the relationship that I have with them. I have a special relationship with each one of them, but there is no comparison from one to the other.
My daughter has had a child free summer this year as the kids went with dad. She works hard, makes sure that her boys have everything they need and has taken advantage of this time very well. Her and her posse of girlfriends has been having girls’ night out and they have been begging me to go out with them. We both love country music, dancing, and I absolutely love having date nights with her, whether we are alone or in a group. Our first date was when she turned 16 and I took her to see Brad Paisley at Humphrey’s by the Bay. It is a night I will cherish forever.
Finally, even though it was work for me, she met me with her girlfriends at the Renegade on Saturday night as I went to listen to Barbwire. All the girls call me dad, which caused some confusion with the swarm of young men that surrounded these beautiful young women. And when they found out that I was really her father and not a sugar daddy, they were dumbfounded. I got the same reaction from the young girls when they found out. But, what I heard over and over again, was how they wished that they could hang out with their dads like we do. My daughter and her friends all know they can talk about anything around me without having to censor any subject. It comes with a price, because I hear things I just do not want to know sometimes, but without that complete trust, our relationship would not be as wonderful as it is today.
The beauty in an uncensored relationship is that when she needs advice, help or a shoulder to lean on she knows she can come to me. I will always be her dad, but am privileged to be a confidant and friend that she knows without a doubt that I will not judge or talk down to her. I will listen, and give her uncensored advice because in my 55 years, I have messed up so many times, I can tell her personally, how I overcame the very same problems.
I would not change this for anything. As busy as life is for all of us, I cherish these moments. Though we now have to bounce calendars just to get together for an hour or two, it is imperative to make those hours count for something that continues that growth.
I know many parents, even though their children are adults, they still refuse to listen and continue to treat them the same as they did when they were younger. I encourage any parent to take the PG rating off your conversations with your children. If you do not, you will not be the one that they turn to when they need you the most. And that goes both ways. I have somewhere to go when I need it the most. Because I know they are there for me.