During the school year, my son and I have a routine. When I come back from my afternoon workout, he takes a bath while I have a shower. It’s a win-win-win as the two of us end up clean and my wife likes a fresh family.
Last week, as I was heading out the door for date night, my son asked me to help him get clean.
One of my reactions was fear.
- Fear that if I gave into this request then I’d never get out of the house.
- Fear that if I gave into the request then the requests would never stop.
Fortunately, I was able to pause before I acted on my fear.
While pausing, the thought arrived that I MUST break this pattern of behavior in my boy.
What pattern was that?
Loving me, or wanting to spend time with me? 😉
Pausing a little more, I thought about everyone in the situation.
- The Sitter – being left with a dirty, unhappy four-year old
- My Wife – sitting outside, content with her apps
- My Boy – wanting his dad to spend time with him
- Myself – feeling a wall rising inside me as I’m tempted to close out my son
I sent my wife a text that I’d be a bit late, enjoyed giving my son a bath and everything worked out fine.
I share this story because it highlights a dangerous habit that is easy to create.
Closing my inner life because I’m scared of future demands.
If you look for this pattern then you will see it everywhere.
- Gifting – refusing to help now, to avoid being asked later
- Parents – giving into the desire to break the child now, to “help” them later
Inside me, the habit feels like a form of revenge.
I’ll turn away from you now, because that’s “easier” than having to say no later.
Looking deeply, I’m the one that is hurt by this habit (and I’m robbing myself of the feel-good benefit of being a nice guy).
Harsh people think their hardness is a long-term favor to the people in their lives. They probably learned this habit in a difficult childhood.
My heart tells me that I’ll be OK with the risks of staying open to the people in my life.