Larry was proud that he wasn’t a drunken bum like his old man, Frank. Frank couldn’t hold a job for more than six months at a time. What money Frank did earn, he drank and gambled away on payday before he even got home for the weekend, if he came home at all. In contrast, Larry had been a star employee for the same company for over twenty-three years now, and Larry didn’t drink a drop.
That’s why he was so shocked when the high school called him in and told him that Randy, his oldest son, was about to be arrested for selling drugs at school. The principal wanted Larry to come to the school right away.
Larry was humiliated. How could this have happened? He hadn’t raised his kids to be this way! Or had he?
On his way to the school, he thought about his dad, Frank. Could history be repeating itself? He had tried so hard to distance himself from that mess some called his childhood.
Since it was Randy’s first offense, the local youth accountability board offered him counseling in lieu of a criminal conviction and jail time. Randy’s parents had to participate in the process, too. Larry was so puzzled by what had happened, that he was actually relieved when he and Randy’s mom were required to attend counseling.
Larry told the counselor about his dad, Frank, how he had kept his own family far away from substance abuse, and how surprised he was about Randy. “How come this happened? I did everything the opposite of my father. I didn’t see this coming.”
The counselor simply said, “Opposites are not different,” and then waited for Larry’s response.
Larry thought for a moment and then a metaphorical light went on. “You mean I reacted to my father with opposite behaviors and now our son is reacting to me with his own opposite behaviors?”
“Precisely, Larry.” The counselor smiled, “Opposite behaviors don’t solve the root problem. One generation swings to extremes of substance abuse, religious regulations, political activism, or just plain old work-aholism. The next generation reacts with a vow to never be like the former.”
“It’s like that old saying, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’” Larry interjected, “and the judgment just keeps cycling from one generation to the next!”
“Well put!” said the counselor. “The root issues of bitterness, lack of forgiveness, resentment, wrath, and anger are never addressed.”
Larry concluded, “So if I let go of my resentment toward my dad and forgive him, that may give my son a chance to let go and forgive me,”
“You’re on the right track, Larry. I believe Randy will feel safer around a dad who is dealing with his own stuff. It may encourage him to deal with his own stuff, too.”
Argh #8 Discussion Time:
- What do you think of this saying, “We are most critical of those who are most like us”?
- Name a relative or a coworker that you’ve been proud to be the complete opposite of.
- Why is it important for you to be different from that person?
- Now think of ways you and that person are alike.
- What have you learned from this exercise?
Your comments are super welcome!
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