I watched a wonderful therapy movie last night called Everybody’s Fine with Robert DeNiro. A movie hasn’t hit this deep of a nerve in me in a very long time. In essence, a widowed father of 4 adult children takes off to visit each of his kids after they all unexpectedly cancel a summer reunion at his house. What he discovers is that his kids don’t feel safe telling him the truth about their lives and, instead, keep up some elaborate lies so as not to disappoint him.
Being okay with the truth!
As a parent and soon enough to be ’empty nester’, this movie really made me think about the level of safety my husband and I have created for our children. When my boys go out on their own, will they feel comfortable telling us when they fall short of their dreams? How will they feel telling us if they fall short of OUR dreams for them? Do our boys know without a doubt that they will be loved and accepted by us even if they make a mistake or a stupid decision? If they fail a class, get fired from a job or get a divorce?
This movie brought out tons of abandonment for me! By creating such an atmosphere of distrust, he really didn’t have a relationship with his children. Now, with his wife gone and at this late stage of his life, he is realizing the painfully lonely cost of not tending to these important relationships. I was almost wimpering as the father flashed back to young, innocent memories of his children and the interactions he had with them that he can never change, but have forever affected their lives.
Don’t always need to agree with one another
However old your children and whatever the state of your relationship with them, it is never too late to fix it. Be humble and accept that maybe you weren’t a perfect parent, because none of us are! Apologize for anything you need to apologize for. Let your kids know that you may not always agree with what they are doing, but that you’ll love them no matter what. Something I read recently that I wish I had heard when my kids were small: Kids need love, especially when they least deserve it!