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Guessing What's Best

One of the (countless) challenges of being a single parent is helping a child maintain a healthy relationship with the other parent.  Barring mental, physical, and emotional abuse, the child's well-being is nourished by both parents, both relationships.  Doing anything that undermines one relationship or the other does nothing but hurt and confuse the child.

This gets extremely challenging when the other parent has died.

There are days when the temptation is to ignore any wrong done by the late parent, to let the child remember him as almost holy.  There are days when the temptation is to relate those past wrongs as the reasons some things are tougher than they should be now.  And then there are days when the wish--the desperate wish--is that the other parent was still alive to step up and step in.

Today was one of those days.  Dev did something, and I reacted.  Then I overreacted.  I hate it when I do that.

Until this last year, even when we were separated and angry with each other, I'd call my late husband to let him know what was happening, to get his take on this son-raising challenge.  He and I would talk it through.  Sometimes we'd figure out ways I could better talk with Dev, sometimes he'd step in to be the other supporting figure pointing out that Mom was most certainly In Charge, and sometimes he'd be the bridge between Dev and I.

So after I quit overreacting, and Dev and I had gone to our separate corners, I tried to imagine just what his dad would have said.  Then I practiced different ways to present those thoughts in a way that wasn't overly sentimental or that sounded guilt-inducing.  The tone with which I'd ask, "What would your Dad have said today?" would mean more than the words.

Fortunately, Dev and I both came up with about the same ideas for answers to that question, and we sealed our agreement over moo shu and fried rice.  I don't know if Dev will make the needed behavior change for more than a couple days, but at least it's covered for today.  Tomorrow, we'll see if we have to do it all over again.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
Jul. 4th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC)
Wow, that is a toughie. Hats off to you.
aanna_t
Jul. 4th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)
Hugs
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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blairmacg
Blair MacGregor
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