“I have two boys and I live in a very conservative area. I love where I live (mostly), but I don’t like how a lot of people around here talk about people with different skin colors and religions, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and women. I don’t want my sons to ever talk like that. Do you have any advice for raising kind and open-minded boys in an area that isn’t always very kind and open-minded?”
Thanks for the question, Rebecca! First, a couple of caveats. I don’t have kids myself (yet), so I’m hesitant to give parenting advice. In particular, I don’t know your kids, their personalities, or how they might respond in various situations, but I’ll do my best to share some general thoughts on this topic.
I believe in the therapeutic and transformative value of writing, and I’m a big proponent of telling your story. Today, I’m happy to share an essay that was submitted by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. I hope you enjoy it. If you have a story you’d like to share, feel free to send it to me using the “Contact” link in the menu bar.
When my twin brother got married, I made him a big scrapbook. Full of pictures of us growing up together, it took me a lot of time and money to make. I put in pictures of him playing sports, us playing soccer and wiffle ball in the backyard, us opening presents on Christmas morning. I put in pictures of our childhood dog, pictures of us graduating high school together, and pictures of us holding hands as babies.
The last month and a half has been challenging for me. I traveled to Greece for two weeks, which disrupted my usual routines, though I still managed to do some meditating and blogging while I was there. Then my dad was hospitalized and died, and for a while it seemed nearly impossible to focus on anything else. I still think about my dad constantly, and my mom and I are doing our best to figure out this new normal. To top it off, I am pregnant with my first child, making me both excited and exhausted. Simple tasks like eating and exercising have become much more difficult than they once were.
When I was a kid, my dad was what today we might call my lead parent. My mom was involved in my life too, but she often worked 60 hours a week and sometimes had to travel for work. My dad’s work day ended at 3:00, and he had a little more flexibility in terms of taking time off, so he was the one who picked me up from day care, took me to my first day of kindergarten, and attended school events. I spent a good bit of time with him when I was young, and he taught me many of life’s essential early lessons.
I sometimes took my dad for granted in my adolescent years, as teens often do. He went through some hard times and battled some demons, and I didn’t always understand or appreciate him. When I was in 11th grade, and again during my first year of college, he was hospitalized with serious health issues. These brushes with death transformed my dad and my relationship with him, and I’m especially grateful for the person he became and the times we spent together over the past 15 years.
My father passed away on Friday, July 7. He had been in the hospital during the preceding week, which is why I have not published any new posts recently. There is so much I want to write about my dad, but I need some time to process everything. And I can’t imagine writing about anything else right now. I will be writing new posts soon, I hope, but I’m not sure exactly when. Thank you for your patience and understanding.