Forgive and Forget for the New Year?

4 responses.

Forgive and forget. I just read this post from my parenting guru, David Altshuler, and I thought it was meaningful and important enough to share with you. Next week we’ll get back to the subject of building brand value and making it All About Them, this week TurkelTalks is all about relationships.

Forgive and forget?

Forgive and ForgetA twenty-five dollar gift certificate, a $2.95 card that reads, “Welcome to the family,” and a 47-cent stamp can undo a year of misunderstanding. Total expenditure: $29.42. Not a bad price to pay for an adult child.

I know folks who routinely pay $29.42 for bad Chinese take-out food. Bad Chinese food is less likely to give you grandchildren never mind look at old family photographs with you. And you have never heard bad Chinese take-out food tell the story about how we got lost on that hike during the thunderstorm.

Fast forward 20 years and not even a $50 gift certificate and a card that reads, “I wish I had sent you this note welcoming you to the family two decades ago” will bring back the lost years. And I don’t even want to think about how expensive a stamp might be in 2037. You could spend $2942.00 but the adult child will be off the market.

I know your son has done more than his share to damage your relationship:

  • Yes, he flunked all his courses at the community college and lied about it.
  • Yes, he dyed his hair purple.
  • Yes, he moved in with a man rather than a woman.
  • Yes, he married outside the faith.

I understand you find these actions unconscionable and unforgivable.

But let’s face it: you haven’t exactly been blameless either. When he called to enthusiastically share news of a new job you said, “But you have no experience in that field; that will never work” rather than “Good for you, you’re going to be great.”

Whatever you think about his being gay, whatever your opinion about his marrying someone of another faith, whatever your belief about purple hair, he’s still your son. Whereas you can always try a different Chinese take-out place, you only get a certain number of children.

Forgive and forget?

There are always a dozen reasons to end a relationship: a $25,000,000 business deal, a $25 lunch check; a perceived insult, a real insult; a large difference of opinion, a small disagreement. There’s only one reason to stay the course and maintain a relationship with your difficult progeny: having a connection to your kid, even a problematic one, is better than not.

And it could be that no matter how thin you make the pancake, they always have two sides. Is it possible that the offense has as much to do with you as with the person who has offended you? Yes, your son is gay or married someone of whom you disapprove or went to the wrong medical school or has the wrong color hair. But isn’t it YOUR issue with same sex marriage that has caused the kerfuffle?

You don’t HAVE to go back to a crummy restaurant, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a relationship with your kid? I’m not saying that you must forgive and forget; I’m just suggesting that SOMEBODY is going to be picking out your nursing home. Wouldn’t you rather you had sent that person a “We welcome you and your spouse to the family” card rather than cutting them out of your life?

Because there is still so much more for you to share with your kids – even when they’re older. The first time your son rode his two-wheel bike without training wheels won’t come again. But what about listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s Silent Night with the newscaster talking about Martin Luther King’s march on Selma in the background? Who’s going to share that brilliance with him if you don’t?

Forgive and forget? Thank you, David.

  4 Responses

  1. on January 3, 2017

    Thooughtful, heartfelft, wise post. Very touching sound advice.

  2. on January 3, 2017

    Thank you for posting David Altshuler’s touching, heartfelt and wise advice. From those I know who have lost a child, the pain never ends. Choosing to lose an offspring-even one that is problemtic- is unimaginable.
    This post is illuminating.

  3. on January 4, 2017

    Bruce. Where I Stand:
    I consider myself a patriotic American. I spent over 30 years of my life as a member of America’s military. That was due to my belief that what makes America special, its Constitution and the principles of freedom, equality and opportunity for which it stands, should be defended, and that having had the benefit of that Constitution, I had an obligation to serve. My American flag proudly symbolizes that Constitution and those principles. Unfortunately, recently many of my fellow Americans, nearly half of those who voted, voted to elect Donald Trump, who is a racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobe, xenophobe, anti-science, narcissist, con-man, exploiter and admitted sexual predator, to be President of the United States of America. Mr. Trump embodies all of the very worst qualities to be found in our nation, and I have spent my life fighting against people with those behaviors. Faced by this unprecedented situation, as a patriotic American, I cannot be silent.
    I, like many other Americans, am appalled that so many of my fellow citizens are so lacking in morals that they could vote for Mr. Trump. The office of President is entitled to great respect, but the recent election is an unfortunate victory of ignorance and prejudice against knowledge and reason. It is an affront to decent people. I deeply fear that Mr. Trump is incapable of carrying out the position to which he has been elected, with the responsibility that is required to properly exercise the duties of that position. We, and America’s democracy, are in grave danger.
    Even though some of the people who voted for Mr. Trump have been my friends, I have lost respect for the intelligence of any person who voted for Mr. Trump, and I’m sad about that. In 1980, the great writer and scientist Isaac Asimov wrote “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” In a recent blog post, marketing expert Bruce Turkel said, “Even idiots don’t like being told they are idiots.” He went on to explain, “What voters like being told they’re racist, misogynistic, uneducated, deplorable, elitist, close-minded, dishonest, lazy, immoral, unengaged or crooked?
No, few consumers like to be told they’re stupid, over the hill, overweight, clueless, unwelcome, cheap, or uninformed, even if they are. Nobody likes being called an idiot. Instead people want to be treated with respect, compassion, interest, concern, politeness, and graciousness.” Columnist Henry S. Rosen wrote recently, when he decided Trump supporters would no longer be welcome at his home, “…I could not socialize with people who lacked a moral compass which I consider fundamental to being American.”
    The tough decision I have to make now is whether to cut off, as Mr. Rosen has done, my relationship with old friends who lack that moral compass. I am torn by my love of this country and my long-standing concern, and love for old friends whose judgment I can no longer respect. I can’t confront my friends with the fact that they are idiots, nor can I completely turn my back on them. But what kind of hypocrite am I, if I ignore their moral lapse and pretend our relationship is unchanged? Some of my closest friends are good people, but are still idiots who voted for Trump. One possible approach is to remember that when we love someone, we love them, not because of what they do, but in spite of what they do. I am trying to remember that.
    My objection to Mr. Trump is not a political one, because it doesn’t matter whether Mr. Trump is Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. Voting for Mr. Trump was a singular moral failure by every person who voted for him, because of his despicable personal character. No one, who behaves as Mr. Trump has acted up to now, deserves to hold that office. No one really knows what Mr. Trump stands for, because his statements during the campaign, even those that were not outrageous, were all over the map and usually contradictory. The biggest unknown, now, is whether Mr. Trump will continue to act in office as mercurial and unpredictable as he has during the campaign and post-election period. His pre-inauguration leadership nominations suggest that his administration will attempt to tear down all that decades of bi-partisan work has managed to accomplish across this nation, in civil rights, in the protecting public health and environment, and in education, and that is more than unfortunate. It is a potential disaster in the making for our nation.
    Until we see whether Mr. Trump is able to perform up to the careful, sober, serious, informed and reserved standard required for the leader of the free world, my American flag has been carefully put away, where it will remain in storage, except for holidays, waiting for a President worthy of our respect. I hope for all of us that my fears are shown to be unfounded. Mr. Trump, please prove me wrong.

    Michael F. Chenoweth
    Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, Retired

  4. Tim Daniels
    on January 4, 2017

    I have the privilege of knowing both of you two brilliant minds. Yet the theme of this is so simple. How many will listen?

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