Strive to Mend Parent-Child Rift
Byline: Rebecca Hagelin, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Culture challenge of the week: parental rejection
Tom is a highly successful physician with social connections that are the envy of even the most ambitious politician. He is unflappable in any circumstance and carries himself with certainty.
Yet, bring up the subject of his son, and the light in the eyes of this confident man suddenly disappears. He looks beyond you at some ghost from his past and then speaks with a quiet, broken voice, My son has very little to do with me. After dark silence, fire quickly consumes his gaze and anger contorts his face, He doesn't appreciate everything - or anything - I've done for him.
I've seen versions of this heart-wrenching scene many times as I've traveled the country speaking on how to strengthen family relationships.
There is a world of rude interruptions slithering between parents and their children; some innocuous and innocent like the innumerable good activities that can rob you of much time together. And there are far more insidious forces deliberately at work, pulling sons and daughters away, whispering to moms and dads that we aren't equipped to raise them: The government, Hollywood, the sex experts, the busybody friends who relinquished control years ago. Sometimes, our own selfish ambition becomes the destroyer.
Whatever the reason, most parents eventually turn their heartache over to anger. Communications with their older children always seem to end up the same: filled with bitterness, resentment and accusations. And with each encounter, the child swims further and further away as the parent unwittingly paddles the lifeboat in the opposite direction.
How to save your family
Nothing is more effective at creating lasting parent-child bonds than lovingly molding the hearts and minds of the little ones God has placed in your hands while they still believe you are the Hero of the Universe. That's why I try to shake new moms and dads out of the societal slumber that has drugged many into thinking the days must be filled with busyness and experts teaching their children endless skills; that a child hooked on television, video games or the Internet must be happy because he is rarely heard from; that educators really do know what is best. …