My friend Toby* has been having a hard time lately. He has made some tough decisions and had some remarkably unkind feedback regarding his choices. This is my take on his situation and what I’d like his family to hear:
My friend Toby, your dad, has had some tough decisions to make. They have taken a long time but he has weighed the options and has not made these decisions lightly. Ok, so he’s selling his house – it’s his to sell. He paid for it. I know it was your family home but this is HIS time, his money, time for him to do what seems right to him. Perhaps his decisions wouldn’t be what you or I would choose to do, but I’m not in his situation making his choices. Nor have I walked in his shoes, or seen life from his perspective. So my opinions about his choices are simply that – my opinions. And who knows what decisions I would make if I were to face his choices.
Your dad has been through some tough stuff. I know you blame him for not being there for you. But in the past few years, in the short time in which I’ve known him, it seems to me he has more than just been there for you. He has often put your desires in front of his own. He has always tried to do the right thing by you. I know you feel that he’s letting you down, he’s being selfish -he’s ignoring you but nothing could be further from the truth.
He’s a man in his forties who has been on his own for a while now and has met someone and fallen in love. This woman has the potential to be the love of his life. He’s knows what it is to be lonely, to feel somewhat lost, and to feel that he’s carrying a heavy weight. Maybe we could be happy for him – having found the love he was searching for.
This is HIS time. His opportunity to go and be with her. To enjoy this relationship and to feel really loved for the first time in so long. He’s following his dreams. And in doing so, he’s not ignoring you. It doesn’t mean he’s being selfish or unloving. It just means he’s a man, in love, and following a dream, a hope, a desire – something that has the potential to provide a sense of joy that he may, otherwise, not experience.
And if it all falls over… that’s his stuff – it’s his life and his choices and he’ll live with the consequences. He’s an adult and he takes responsibility for his life and his decisions.
I guess he’s hoping that one day you’ll realise that this is HIS time to explore, and that you’ll be happy for him; that you’ll encourage him to follow his dreams just as you would expect him to encourage you to do the same. It’s not that he doesn’t love you. He loves you very much. And just as you have desires and hopes – so does he. He’s not leaving you behind, he’s hoping that you’ll stay connected like you are now. And that you’ll let him continue to be an active part of your lives. He’s not leaving babies behind, he’s leaving adults who he has loved and tried to teach to take care of themselves. He’s hoping you will step up and take responsibility for your lives and your choices. I know it’s easier to blame him for all your woes but let’s be fair. He can’t, nor should he, live your lives for you.
You are not fledglings who were kicked out of the nest into the snow.
You are adults who have life skills and choices and opportunities. And you have family, and friends, a mum and grandparents and other people in your lives who can provide guidance. And you have a dad who cares and would gladly listen and share with you his thoughts, guidance and wisdom if you give him an opportunity. He’s only a phone call away, or a few clicks of the mouse. And all the electronic tools you use to catch up with your friends, you can use to catch up with him too. He’s effectively right here.
This could be an awesome chapter for you too. An opportunity to step up, and step outside of your own comfort zones. To explore a world where you are in control – if that’s what you choose. At the end of the day, it’s up to you.
*You guessed it – not his real name!