My family is afraid of me. Yup, they are afraid to tell me pretty much anything from where they are going to what they have been doing to what they are thinking of doing. Why all this secrecy? It’s because they fear my judgement, worry or feedback. How does this make me feel? Well, judged, worried and in need of giving them some major feedback on the issue!
Here’s the kind of thing my family doesn’t want to tell me: My husband got a speeding ticket. My son bought an expensive skateboard without talking to us first and my daughter got a really bad grade that had a big effect on her GPA. Nothing devastating, but, frustrating.
Can you blame me for wanting to express to my husband that we really can’t afford a ticket? Or that my son should have talked to us before spending a lot of money? Or that we could have gotten our daughter some help in that class before it became such a bad situation? To me my concerns merely reflect caring for the functioning of our family. If I had ever said things like “What are you thinking? That’s stupid!” I could understand their hesitation to ever open their mouths around me. But that’s not the case.
And yet, the irony is that they all also come to me for advice and support. So why do I get the good and the bad? The sharing and the closed off? I think it’s simply because I am a wife and mother. Simple as that. In general, as women, we are the captains of the family ship, navigating the waters that are sometimes very choppy and treacherous. Do we have all the wisdom of the world? Heck no. But from our point of reference at the center of things, we have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t for the individuals and the family as a whole. As long as we aren’t being shrews and just plain mean and insulting, I see nothing wrong with respectfully voicing our opinions. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just stupid! Just kidding.
Now I can hear you all out there saying “Aren’t there things you hesitate to tell your husband?” and “Weren’t there things you didn’t tell your mother?” To the first question, I say “no” because I do try really hard to not do anything that would create a big problem for us. To the second question, I say, “oh yes, for as long as I can remember.” I was hesitant to tell my mom anything for fear she would pass judgement and pass it she did. Again, never insultingly. But it happened enough that it gave me pause to either brace myself for the comments yet to come or just not tell her. It happens to this day.
Sound familiar? Why is it that when my own mother voices her opinion, it’s an affront to my judgement as a person, wife, mother, homeowner, whatever. But when I have something to offer, in my mind it’s perfectly valid and should be stated. Is it just that we all have our beliefs and feel that we should be able to say things because that’s part of participating in life? Yes. And do we need to know when to hold our tongue? Sure, absolutely, and I do most of the time.
In fact, in recent years, as I have matured and life has made me just darned tired, I think I have become a lot more laid back. I have surprised my family with my lack of reaction to things they’ve said and done. Is it because I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that they’ll basically do what they are going to do (keep in mind, they are in their teens and beyond, not little kids anymore)? Or is it because I’ve learned that important lesson of parenting and life in general – people are going to do what they are going to do and they will have to live with the consequences.
So my husband will be a lot more cautious when he’s driving. My son will not have the money to buy some of the other things he wants – until he saves up for it. And my daughter will have to work extra hard next semester to bring her grade up. All good life lessons. Case closed.