This is part 2 in a series on The Family
For part 1, click here
For series synopsis, click here
Many, many years ago I was riding home with my dad in our black truck from somewhere, I can’t remember at all from where. I don’t know how we had started the conversation. I don’t think it really matters how.
What matters is that it did.
We had just turned the corner onto 1250 East and headed north. My dad was going through a list of things that would usually occupy the mind of a growing teenage boy – things that would invariably lead to trouble.
He talked about smoking, drinking, drugs, stealing, gambling, cheating, lying, and being cruel. Then he turned to look at me and said something like “I don’t think that any of these really have the potential to become a problem for you. They really don’t tempt you.”
I thought for a moment, and had to agree with him. None of those seemed the least bit appealing to me. I turned and nodded back.
I felt pretty good at this point. Look at me, Greg Batty, sailing through all these silly problems that others had to worry about.
But not me.
Of course, the conversation didn’t stop there.
And I’m glad that it didn’t.
My dad then told me that he had thought and prayed a lot about it and as near as he could tell, what would get me into trouble would be sexual temptations.
Being a teen I was pretty uncomfortable at that point. Who wants to have that conversation?
But again, I knew that he was right.
Here’s the great thing about that experience: I knew that he wasn’t telling me this to make me feel bad, or caught, or in trouble, or that he thought less of me.
So what was he telling me?
I wasn’t alone in fighting the things that had the greatest potential to bring me down and rob me of the happiness that I hoped to have someday.
When the battle became too much, I could ask for help, and help would come.
So, I could care enough to be aware.
And do something about it.
Because of this, I did do something about it and changed course. I don’t even want to contemplate where my life would be right now if I hadn’t.
Here’s another memory from just a few months ago:
On this particular night, I was scanning through our live-streaming list of movies and shows. One I had added recently was a good historical story and looked interesting. But as we passed it over, Alex said “Dad, that is TV –MA.”
I wasn’t fully there mentally and just said “Um-hmm” and kept scanning.
But Alex didn’t let it go.
“Dad, that is the equivalent of an R rating. Go back and delete it right now.”
It was enough to wake me up to really be present. I scanned back and canceled the TV show.
What did that tell a dad fighting his own demons?
When the battle becomes too much, I can ask for help, and help will come.
I don’t have to spend time, energy, and emotions trying to hide something from them. They know. I know that they know. And that frees me up to just face it head on.
That makes me care enough to be aware.
And to keep doing something about it.
You may wonder how these scenarios could happen.
Through many, many deeply important, potentially difficult, and embarrassingly vulnerable conversations within the family.
As a father, I am trying to teach my children the same. It happens doing the dishes, weeding the yard, and around our kitchen table.
It takes time. It takes effort. It takes courage. It takes humility. It takes being teachable.
Most of all, it takes love.
Make no mistake, I know what things have the greatest danger of robbing each member of my family of happiness, both present and future.
And they know that I know.
Together, we care enough to do something about it.