Blog Content NRP – Not recommended for Parents
I received an email from my Dad last week – amongst other fun topics, advice on my apparent “addiction to facebook which is ruining my life” and his opinion on this blog. I made the mistake of showing him thinking that he might like the window into my life and appreciate the humour that myself and many others find amusing. He obviously didn’t find it funny. He said (and I quote) “Quite frankly I am not sure how to describe it – horrified, appalled, bemused come to mind. If this is a true reflection on how you view motherhood and marriage, then I am really sorry.” We haven’t talked since and I don’t know when we will.
When do you start becoming friends with your parents because you enjoy their company and how does it work when you get older and gradually discover you don’t have as much in common as you used to? Can you go back to the parent/child relationship and do you really want to? What if you don’t even like the person they have become or if they don’t like you? What happens when you realise the tone they use to describe your lifestyle drips with condemnation and they have absolutely no respect for you or your family?
During my teenage years, my Dad was my rock. He bought me my first packet of tampons, mopped up the tears when my first boyfriend dumped me, helped me move house about 17 times and bought me my first car. It was he who I confessed to when I was arrested for shoplifting and he was there for my court appearance (I stole an Elle McPherson Silk Bra when I was 18 if anybody was curious :). He offered no judgement when my first marriage crumbled, no “I warned you…” or “told you so’s” even though I’m sure he saw the writing on the wall even before he walked me up the aisle. We went to concerts together and enjoyed a beer watching the V8’s sitting next to each other on the couch with an occasional “love you” thrown into the conversation. He didn’t offer me any advice that I didn’t ask for but was always there for me when I made mistakes.
I am now very happily married with two kidlets and somehow across the years the relationship between us has changed. I guess the dynamics have shifted so that my husband now occupies these roles (although I am yet to convince him to go to a John Farnham concert with me). My husband is now my rock, I go to him for advice, he consoles me in life’s disappointments and picks me up when I am down. He still wont watch the V8’s with me but looks after the kids when a race is on so I can watch it uninterrupted.
So where does this leave Dad? How does he fit into my life other than a Poppy to my kids? Its harder than I realised I think and something I didn’t really think about until the wheels all fell off our proverbial Father/Daughter wagon last week. I think the main problem is we are now a screamingly obvious generation apart. He doesn’t understand the benefits of facebook or comic blogging for a SAHM, nor does he want to. The social media has really left most of the baby boomers behind I think. He picks up the phone and I email. He washes his car on the weekends and I do it once in a blue moon or when I can’t see out the rear vision mirror. My parenting style is different to his – I was made to sit at the table and finish my dinner even if I was in tears by the end – I on the other hand am not phased if my son poo poo’s the dinners I make. My job is to put a healthy dinner in front of him, its his job to eat it. I figure he wont starve himself and there is always a banana. I don’t make my son give kisses goodbye and Dad expects them like a performing seal. Dad lives in a neat and tidy house of a retiree with collectables and fine things – we live in a home that is often messy and strewn with toys but it is clean, its homey and we like it that way.
So what do we have in common now and how do we relate when most of the things and ideas we base our lives around are so drastically different, even “world’s apart” to quote my Dad’s email again? I don’t know how to be friends with him anymore when I am being judged by him for my lifestyle so harshly. I am 38 years old, have my own family and I am responsible for my own life which by the way I enjoy immensely – if I screw it up, I screw it up with Nick who now carries the weight of helping me put it back together- Dad is off the hook.
I no longer need his advice, I just need acceptance for the woman and mother than I am. The trouble is, parents think it is their right to offer advice and criticism just when no other friend would – my friends just accept me as I am and figure I am a grown up woman and my own person – if people don’t like me then they are simply not my friends, they don’t try to “fix” me like a parent thinks they have an obligation to. I don’t want to be “fixed” – I just want to be respected.
I guess the answer to friendship and maintaining a healthy relationship with each other is to try and respect and accept each others choices in life and lifestyles, even if we don’t agree with them and even if they are polar opposites to our own. But how??? How do we bridge the generation gap so that we can live under the same roof in harmony and not animosity when we stay at his place on holidays?