Sunday, August 5, 2007

An Open Letter to My Son

Dear Little Man,

You know, there are times when I look at you and I know that when you get older you are going to ask me what happened with our family. Growing up, I was grateful that you were so well adjusted to our separation. You mother and I, regardless of our differences, always agreed that nothing good would come of putting you in the middle of our problems. I will always be grateful for that; even your school teachers said that your behavior in school seemed to get better once we separated and I moved out of the house.

So now that you've become a man, you've asked me several times what happened between us. Each time, I've told you I'll tell you when you're older. When you're old enough to drive; when you're old enough to drink. Well, I'm sorry; I still don't think the time is right for you to know the details. One of the things I have always done is honored your mother for you, just as she has done for me. Our problems remain our problems; and this is something that you will need to learn to accept over time. When we are peers and you have been married, had a child, created a career, and carved your place in life then we can talk about this. As corny as it sounds, you still have too much to learn and experience. It's simply not the right time, and I hope you can understand.

Now, with that in mind I want you to live and benefit from my mistakes. I want you to learn from them, and not have to relive them. You've told me about being in love, and how your relationships are getting more serious. I'm happy for you, and excited for the opportunities that are in front of you. A good relationship will enhance your life. It will give you insight into aspects of yourself that hide from the world, and empower you to achieve more. The flip side of that is that a bad relationship will limit you; it will whittle you down to a sliver of yourself. Given who you are, you will know when things are right and when you have a good thing going. Its hard, sometimes though, to understand when things are bad; when it is time to move on. Here is some advice on when / why to move on:

Remember that relationships don't define you. They don't determine who you are. They describe where we are in life, and demonstrate what we value. Its ok for this to change over time, and when it changes its ok to recognize, accept it, and move on. If you find that your relationships define you, then maybe you have forgotten who you are. Don't let that happen.

This is going to sound like a cliche, but sex is not love. Great sex should be celebrated, but it cannot be the basis for a relationship. If you have not experienced this yet, you will soon and will know exactly what I mean (this is one of those things that you will know when you know). Ride it out for however long you can, but be real about what you have. Remember: a kiss is not a contract.

If you find yourself "hoping" your relationship will change, leave. Hope on its own has never changed anything; it certainly cannot change people. If you think that "waiting" for someone to change or that they will "see the light" at some point is noble, think again. In relationships, chumps hope. Now, at some point in your life you may find someone that you feel is worth your "hope" because when things are good, they are better than anything you have lived through or experienced. As a father, I want you to know that this will be your cross to bear, and it will be your choice alone to value this person more than yourself.

Does she say she loves you, but act differently (like she resents you, for example)? What people say and what they do can sometimes be very different. If they are, look out. You want to be with someone that lives congruently; whose actions are aligned with their emotions, thoughts, and goals. If she loves you but likes to put you down, walk away. Does she need to be right or have the last word? Does she feel the need to elevate herself above you (for whatever reason)? Does she put you down when she feels bad? If so, she has contempt for you at some level. Walk away.

Its smart to walk away from a bad thing, and trust your instincts when they tell you something is bad for you. Your instincts are right more often than we give them credit for; respect and hone them. Walking away takes courage and conviction; it takes strength and will. Believe in yourself and trust your instincts.

Nothing is more important than loving, respecting, and nurturing yourself. If you don't love yourself, no one will love you back. If you do not respect yourself, people will not respect you. If you do not nurture yourself, you will not learn, grow, or evolve. I feel that these three things are keys to living; I didn't learn this until my 30's. Hopefully you have learned it already.

Kid, you have always been the greatest gift my life has experienced. I am honored to be your father, and hope your understand the things I am talking about in this letter. I will always be here for you.

With Love and Respect,

Dad

25 comments:

Richard Rotman said...

Sometimes you should walk away as it is described here but sometimes you have no choice. This article shows how men can be strong and decide for themselves that it is not working. My blog Separated Man tries to deal with some of these issues as well and can be found here: http://separatedman.blogware.com/blog. I will add this blog to my list.

Nicole said...

Hi, I know what a challenge it is and developed a 100% free site: holisticdivorcecounseling.com to offer support and resources to people going through this cosmic hazing.
Please check it out and let me know if you would add it to your links.
Peace,
Nicole

divorce lawyers london said...

i think you are really brave to put this out there. Does you wife and or son know you run this blog?

Anonymous said...

Thank you. It's been a long month, and I needed something to tell me that what I was saying in my head was real. It's real, and I have to leave, and it's the hardest thing I think I'll ever have to do, but I think I'll survive...

My poor children. I love them dearly, and the only way out is to let them go.

jonathan said...

That is so touching. I hope your son is enjoying his life. He will understand and be fine with the divorce if you take care of him well. Good luck!

Cory Aidenman said...

Well worth the read, it’s inspirational. Surviving divorce with kids is hard to deal with.

Andrea said...

A very moving story,I have to agree
that when someone loses repesct for another person it becomes difficult to live with that person ,this must of been a hard article to write
especially to your son
Andrea

arthur said...

I am about to be divorced from my wife of 18 years.As bad as thing developed between us, I always had a secret hope that things would turn around for us...What can I say, I miss the way my wife and I once were with eachother. Tommorow I will be signing for uncontested divorce. My Dad died the same year I met her....they never met. I stumbled on this post....and I almost felt Dad talking to me. May your life be blessed beyond measure for your encouraging words.

Zing said...

I'd love to hear how you're doing now. How long did it take for the pain to subside from your divorce? My wife and I went to our final counseling session on the very day of our eighth anniversary. Our children (7 and 5) will find out by this weekend of the changes in store for them. I just wish I could fastforward through this time.
Any advice for someone just starting out?

Jodi said...

Hi,

I found your blog and would like to offer you some complimentary books from Thomas Nelson. Specifically, we have a new book out titled "Plan B" by new author Pete Wilson. It may be helpful for what you're going through. If you would like a copy, please contact me at JHughes@thomasnelson.com with your mailing address.

Thanks!

Divorce Advice for Men said...

Now that's how you explain divorce to your son. I would like to congratulate you for taking the necessary measures to keep your son well adjusted and reception throughout the changes in your life. A lot of divorced couples should take heed of this letter of yours so that the world would be a better place.

Anonymous said...

I am attempting to chronicle my divorce in a blog and would love people to come ready my story.
http://agreatdivorce.blogspot.com

Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor said...

So sweet. I'll add your blog to the list I read every week. Thanks so much for your post.

-Mary
www.stearns-law.com

webmasterjames said...

This letter is so touching. When I go over each line, I can feel the emotion felt by the father. The dilemma of the father to his son regarding the failed marriage is one that will make a gap between them. But I appreciate the father a lot because he wanted to impress to his son that, broken relationships is not good and also warn him not to make the same mistakes again. The father wants his children and divorce not to conflict with each other.
Nice post by the way. :)

Cosmetic Dentistry said...

I rarely leave comments on articles, but your article encouraged me to compliment your writings. Thanks for the read, I will tweet your post and come back occasionally.

Oral Chelation said...

Your excellent work here is much appreciated.

Family Law said...

This made me tear up. What a beautiful, well-written letter. You are such a brave man putting it out there, admitting your mistakes and all that. I know that your son is proud of you.

Eric said...

Its very touching.. That one letter is enough to make a child to be hopeful. That will decide his future.
Love is the only answer to make a child satisfied.

Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Houston

Salt Lake City Divorce Attorney said...

It's a very touching letter. Nice to have stumbled upon it.

George said...

Very nicely said, very brave of you to put this on here.

Extended Learning Center said...

This time can be so crucial in a child's life, and handling it the correct way could mean the world to a child, do you plan on setting up a plan to make the transition for your child as smooth as possible?

Extended Learning Center said...

This is a very lovely letter, this time in a child's life could be the hardest, and is very important to make this a smooth transition for them. Have you made plans on how to make this transition smooth?

Darcy Nimmons said...

If I were your son, I'd definitely be moved by your letter. It is just so touching. One day, maybe he’ll eventually understand what happened between you and his mom. Anyway, this is something every child should read. Indeed, we all need that kind of relationship which can withstand the tests and tribulations in this life.

Janay Stiles said...

Letting the children understand the situation can help them prepare for what will happen during and after the divorce. Sometimes, a simple small talk or a sincerely written letter is all that’s needed for children understand.

Lucas Boles said...

This was so touching to read! There are so many pearls of wisdom about life, love and divorce to get from this, but the one that struck me the most was how you have decided to not let your son in on what caused the divorce. “Our problems remain our problems.” -- This, I think, is one of the best things about this post. Your son is not you, although it’s understandable that he would be worried that the same thing might happen to him. Letting him discover his own self in relationships and making his own mistakes is great, especially since it’s evident that you’ll be there to help him through.