Lately, a lot of things have been going on in my life. And, my ability to influence them – aka control them – is pretty much ZILCH. What a surprise. I like to quote myself and the title of this column is one of my quotes. In fact, on my website I have a scrolling quote bar right below my name at the top of each page.
It’s an illusion to believe we can control much of anything, especially our spouse and our kid(s). The ONLY way people change is if they make a concerted effort to do so. I re-married – at decidedly middle age – a woman just a few years younger than myself.
We both had illusions about each other – that with our great powers of persuasion, we would change those few things that annoyed us about the other. Guess what? It never happened.
So, in our case, we are trying to make the choice to accept those things we cannot change (think the AA prayer). My wife likes things clean and organized. I’m a slob. I am doing my best to put things away EXACTLY where she wants them and I’m doing my best to accept that after I carefully wash a pot or pan, she’s going to still put it in the dishwasher. Duh, rinse the pot or pan and put it in the dishwasher myself. It’s never going to be clean enough for her if I wash it!
Her list of things she’d like to change in me is too long for any single column.
As for children, yes we have some control when they’re younger. As they enter their teens, we all learn how little they listen to us and how, in many cases, they don’t listen at all. They have a mute button for us.
My oldest son was so stubborn that he stayed “grounded” for nearly a year when he was in middle school. I don’t even remember what the “infraction” was that caused that. But, he was content in his room – after school – with all the toys/electronics WE provided him.
And, of course, I made numerous exceptions to his being grounded in the first place. Kids are smart. They know they can wait us out and usually get their way. When I was a single parent, I felt so bad over the loss of their mother, that I was a total wimp when it came to strict parenting.
I’ve paid the price now that my boys are legal and young adults. Now, the ONLY way I have any influence is fiscally. My younger one will scowl at me over anything I ask him to do, but reluctantly do it eventually, since he’s dependent on me for college.
My older one has continued his stubborn streak, though I still support him to a degree.
Perhaps, I’m the fool. But, I believe now that I have to let my wife and my grown kids live their lives as they choose to do. With my wife, since we share a life together, it is easier with each passing year. With my kids, the checkbook will cease soon for both of them and we’ll see how our relationship changes.