One of the things I’ve come to believe through my experiences in my life is to accept others for who they are rather than condemn them for what I want them to be. In day to day living, I believe this to be important. For a marriage and as a parents, it’s absolutely crucial. If I don’t want others telling me how to live my life, who am I to impose my expectations on others? I believe there is a balance in our relating to others, where we need to express ourselves on our own terms and strive to accommodate others in the expression of themselves (on their own terms). The trick is to find a way in which these two balance out. It’s easy when these “expressions,” assumptions and expectations are similar. The challenge comes when these clash with others.
Compromise is not a dirty word. Compromise is not the strategy of weakness – contrary to what seems to be the growing populace trends in my country and (seemingly) the wider world today. I strive to respect others for who they are, and so I try to be accommodating as accommodating as I can. With my family, I allow myself to bend a bit more in their favor. This is not only because of the fact that that I love them, but I know that they allow themselves to bend a bit more in my favor as well. I don’t have contact with my parents or their families. The reason for this is that there are expectations within that dynamic and everyone is assigned roles which are imposed by the whole family. I have never been who and what they wanted me to be. I have not been able to truly express who I am without condemnation and ridicule. Though I fought with them for years in trying to get them to accept me for who I am, there came a time when I found it necessary to reduce (and later completely eliminate) any contact with them. I’m sure this sounds very odd and reprehensible to some folks in different countries and cultures. I understand how awful this may sound. Trust me, it was not an easy decision to make and even more difficult to follow through with.
Consider this, however. I’m willing to go along with almost anything, so long as the focus is on what is best for everyone. I’m willing to sacrifice all for my wife and son, because I know that they are just as devoted to me. I don’t always get along with my wife’s family, but I go along with a lot of things I don’t want to because of the fact that I know they love me and accept me for who I am. This isn’t a matter of getting my own way or who’s “right.” It’s not a matter of those American traits of “self expression” and “self reliance.” It’s about building and maintaining relationships with the most important people in my life. It’s about their having your back just as much as you have their’s. It’s about being respected as a meaningful, integral part of the family rather than being treated like a lackey, a gopher or nothing more than the fulfillment of the expectations of others.
To be honest, this is one of the reasons why I gave up my career and other goals to be an “at home dad.” When my son was born, my wife and I both had careers. We both had goals and expectations about what we wanted to accomplish in our lives and where we wanted to go. However, we both believed that someone needed to be home for the sake of our son and to ensure that the home was taken care of. I think it would have been great if I had worked my way up to be some vice president by this time or (even better) started some company which I could utilize to ensure employment for others and engage in social assistance and outreach. But we had a child and we both believed in the primacy of that life above all other personal considerations. Do I wonder what path my life would have taken if I hadn’t stayed home? Sure. Do I have any regrets? Are you kidding me! Of course not. My wife and I talked about this as equals, and we both agreed that the best thing was for her to continue working and for me to stay home.
My worth and value comes from who I am rather than my any job title or ultimate career accomplishments. Meaning in my life comes from the substance of the relationships I develop and the sort of family I’ve been a part of creating. In the end, life is all about people and the relationships we build with them. A woman I may meet on the street may not be my mother, wife or daughter, but she’s someones daughter, (or perhaps) wife or mother. The same with men that I pass. Any one of them is someone’s son, perhaps someones father or husband. Every child is someones child – and because of that, no matter who they may be, they are just as precious as my own. It’s not about titles, “accomplishments” or position “in the pack.” It’s all about blending all that I am with all which others have become…for the benefit of all.
Be Well, My Friends,
P.S. Here’s a song that popped into my head while I was writing this. Note I’m not personally getting any money for this link: