3 Ways to Get Out of the Way to Have Quality Relationships with Your Children
It was a hard pill to swallow. Gene had blamed everyone and everything for not having a great relationship with his children. He blamed it on the fact that now that they were older, they were not at home when he was there. If it wasn’t that, it was that their mother kept them too busy and wouldn’t coordinate their schedules with his. Or, this was a critical time at work and he had a lot of important things that took up his time. It did not occur to him that he needed to get out of the way if these relationships were going to thrive.
“What are you going to do to change things?” Dona asked.
Gene started at her blankly, taken aback by the question. Then it hit him. He needed to get out of the way to have quality relationships with his children. It was a hard pill to swallow.
Have you ever been Gene, wanting a great relationship with your children, yet getting in its way? Here are three things to do to get out of the way.
#1 Take responsibility
When you do not take responsibility for having meaningful relationships with your children, you are, de facto, in the way. It means that you are not putting in the effort, making the sacrifices that healthy relationships require. Moreover, you are being passive, setting everyone else up for failure and frustration while absolving yourself of any part in the inevitable breakdown in relationships. The breakdown is inevitable because you are not playing your part. You are not playing fair when you do not take responsibility.
This brings us to the second way in which you need to get out of the way.
#2 Get over yourself
At the end of the day, quality relationships with your children are not about you. Does that seem contradictory? In some ways it is. How could these relationships not be about you when you are a part of them, when you have to take responsibility for them going well? So, it is about you but . . . ultimately, it is about the children. You must truly see them for who they are. Desire the best for them above your feelings and desires. Go beyond the easy path that protects you and allows you to put in the minimum effort. This is to avoid any sense of failure should they not respond in the way that makes you feel affirmed.
Thus, not only do you need to get over yourself to get out of the way, you also need a third thing.
#3 Be vulnerable
In my book, Dads Love Lasts: How to Close the Relationship Gap to Leave a Lasting Legacy, I note that being vulnerable “comes from a deep knowing of who you are that allows you to be appropriately real in your sharing and interactions” (p 48). If you do not know who you are at your core, you will not allow others to get close to you. This is not about over sharing. It is knowing yourself well enough to be and share in an authentic way that leaves you open to misunderstanding and hurt. To have quality relationships with your children, you must be vulnerable. Do you know yourself well enough to get out of the way?
You made your children. You love them. However, on the surface it may seem that you do not want a deep connection with them. Stop running. Admit what you truly want. Get out of the way of it happening by taking responsibility for making this quality relationship happen. Get over yourself and be vulnerable.
Dad, how are you getting out of the way so that you will have great relationships with your children?