Having kids has changed the relationship I have with my father. It has also changed the perspective in which I see on my own childhood. There are many natural and obvious connections I felt to my mother when I became a parent. Pregnancy, childbirth, and everything associated with having babies. It was not until later I reflected on something my father taught me that has stuck with me through the years. It was wisdom he taught me when I was a child, and I’m only realizing the true value of it now at the age of forty.
My father has taught me many valuable lessons about life, about love, and about parenting. And he will continue to teach me more. The one I am sharing now is something that stands out. It’s a wisdom I have separated from the rest. Because of how my understanding of this lesson has changed over the years.
When I was a teenager, I went through what I would consider to be a fairly typical experience of finding my own way. I rebelled against ‘society’ at large. I felt disconnected and frustrated towards my surroundings. I was becoming the person I am today. Although I didn’t see it that way at the time! If I could go back, I would probably try and tell my teenage self to chill out a little, and enjoy the experience a bit more.
Quite frankly I was a bit of a pain. And probably not the easiest person to parent.
During one of our many teenager/parent conflicts, my father told me something that stuck with me. For the next twenty five years. We were in disagreement and I was planning to do something he didn’t approve of at school. He didn’t agree with my choice. But even in disagreement, this was his response:
“I may not always agree with what you have to say, but I will always fight for your right to say it.”
And he did. Always. My father didn’t seek to ever get me out of something I had landed myself in, or fight my battles for me. But he did help ensure I had a voice to speak for myself.
Through the years, this has been a foundation piece of wisdom for me. To have my own voice, and to support others to have the right to their own voice as well. Feeling this right to my own voice guided me in many aspects of my life. Personally, I have been certain that my opinion and contribution is as valuable as anyone else’s. Professionally it was part of what lead me to support others. As a coach, I help others take control of their health and happiness.
Since becoming a parent that lesson my father taught me has changed. What I didn’t know at the time was how this statement would impact my sense of well-being. How I showed up as a person every day. With the belief that who I am an what I stood for mattered. And was worth speaking up for.
I might not agree with you, but I will always support you.
That was the real wisdom. To grow up in a home supported by parents who would fight for you even when they didn’t agree with you. Knowing my parents didn’t just love me, but valued me as a person.
Even if at times it was at odds with what they believed was right. It taught me to value myself, while also placing value viewpoints different from mine. This belief gave me the security to make mistakes and find my own path. And the confidence to try. I never doubted my parents had my back.
This lesson I learned from my father has influenced the way I parent my children. They too will grow up with the knowledge and security of knowing;
I might not always agree with what they have to say, but I will always fight for their right to say it.