Forgive and Forget for the New Year? | Bruce Turkel

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.

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