Are you spending time with Dad this weekend? Some of you are, and some are not, but no matter what your situation, the thought of your dad and family relationships will probably cross your mind this weekend.
Some of my fondest family memories from childhood were watching the ‘90’s Chicago Bulls play – back when the NBA was super cool and Michael Jordan was in his prime (sorry if I’m offending anyone – the current series tie is definitely exciting, but not the same). A lot of the time, we'd eat our favorite treat, Chicago deep dish from Lou Malnanti’s.
Mom or Dad would order us the same thing every time, “easy on the tomato sauce, with mushrooms, plus the house salad, no onions, please." And it was SO delicious.
My brother, sister and I got to stay up late when the big games went into overtime. Rebels we were! It was 9PM (way past our bedtime) and we’d be wired with excitement, running back and forth across the family room – sprinting one direction as the Bull’s scored and then running in the other to yell and “play defense.”
I literally remember the thrill like it was yesterday. I remember how present everyone was in that moment. We were all having so much fun; no one was working or multi-tasking, and we all shared the pure joy of celebrating “Da Bulls” in their MANY victories!
These family experiences and relationships shape us and become part of us no matter what (the good ones and the bad). As we mature, we get to decide, sometimes unconsciously, if our family relationships shift and grow, or if they stagnate.
Think about it, you’re an adult… a certain family member tends to get under your skin. Maybe he or she seems to want to make decisions for you instead of supporting and trusting you to make your own? You may love that they care, but it really bothers you (and stresses you out) that your family member can’t just trust you and your own instincts! Over time, that stress can impact your sleep, eating habits, confidence levels, other relationships, etc… and eventually your health and overall wellbeing.
Carefully considering how you handle these situations is important. Do you internalize this frustration, or do you discuss it? Do you fight about it? Become defensive? Or do you pretend like it’s not happening? Maybe you justify it because you know it’s coming from a place of love and concern? You may think about how guilty or horrible you would feel telling them that their actions are hurting you?
It sucks getting older sometimes, doesn’t it?:) Relationships are complicated, but are SO important for your wellbeing...
What’s pretty cool about this situation (yes, there’s a bright side) is that however you handle family stress, you have the power to change it and to not let it bother you SO much. And if you can’t change the actual relationship (because that requires buy-in from the other person, and can’t be guaranteed), you can change the way you handle the stress associated with the relationship. It really is awesome!
You have the ability to be in full control of your own thoughts, but it takes awareness, perspective, acceptance and practice. It is worth the work because it frees up your energy to focus on other more productive things… it also makes your relationships and well-being stronger than ever!
This Father’s Day, take the time to accept your unique relationship with your dad and not compare it to anyone else’s. He has made you, you! And you’re amazing in SO many ways! If you’re feeling the relationship needs repairing, approach it from a place of love and strength. Don’t be afraid to be real and true to yourself; say what’s on your mind and go for it.
Take a risk, you may be pleasantly surprised. And if you're not, at least you tried.
Happy Father’s Day to the Dads out there and much love and strength to all of you in whatever obstacles you face!