There was a knock at the door.
‘Um, Sara. What is going on?’ – I am making a shift in my life and I hadn’t discussed it with him yet. If I’m being honest, I’ve been avoiding discussing it with him. Avoiding is my thing and it’s easy to justify when you have kids and a life and a big shift that steals your attention.
My dad likes to tell me what to do and I’m not the kind of person who particularly likes being told what to do. We’re both stubborn that way. When he is unsure of the soundness of my decisions, he’s been known to invite me for a friendly lunch or dinner, ‘let’s have dinner at the club tonight…’ where half way through the meal he’ll gently mention, ‘well, you know I’m a little concerned….’ Ah, there it is…
I’ve inherited just enough of my mother’s good looks and my father’s stubborn temperament to get me into trouble. Intelligence comes from both. Strength and tenacity are all my own.
My dad worries about me – and we don’t always agree completely about what is best for me, even though I’m a fully – capable grown woman.
So, when he looked at me with his serious – business face, I was expecting a lecture, a warning if you will but instead he simply said:
Well, how can I support you? What can I do to help?
Immediately, the atmosphere shifted, the anxiety released from my body. I had been expecting resistance, but instead I received the most precious gift anyone can give.
How can I support you says I’m on your side, I’m in your camp. If it all works out, I’ll be here cheering you on – if it all goes to hell, I’ll help you pick up the pieces. Whatever the case may be, I am here and I am for you.
Support says I trust you and I love you.
Support is not enabling – there is a big difference in the two. Enabling is doing something for someone they can and should be doing for themselves. Support stands quietly on the side and steps in if asked and needed.
Support is also not control. Don’t ever confuse supporting someone with an E-ticket entrance into having a say (or a judgement) in their lives.
As parents, as friends, as partners and spouses we don’t do this enough I think. Not because we don’t want to, but because we simply don’t know how. Most wounds in us are not healed well enough to do so.
My dad didn’t know how. He had to call my mom to ask what to do (they’re divorced and don’t like to talk all that much, fyi.) But at least he cared enough to make that uncomfortable phone call. And he cared enough to follow the advice.
Real relationship is messy and that’s ok.
Check your motivation.
Can you support those you love without the self-serving premise of control and manipulation? Without the self-serving premise of enabling?
I hope I am that person. I want to be that person.
The world needs this. Our families need this.
Here’s to making it great.