I often hear the words, I had good intentions. It infuriates me because treating me poorly while having a heart of gold doesn’t excuse the hurt you just placed on my shoulders. I think this comes into play often with family. Why is it so hard for family members to treat its members with the basic respect they give strangers on the street? I once ask this of my mother when she was questioning me about my decision to stop attending church. I was not ask why I quite attending, nor was any type of discussion pursued. I was only checked on with a phone call asking where I was because, “I noticed that your car was not in the parking lot at church!” Shortly after that interaction, I was asked what my husband thought about my decision. That one really sent my whirling. I venture a guess that first off you would not drive through a parking lot looking for a stranger’s car and then call to confront that person as to their present location. Second, I doubt if you would ask a stranger how their spouse felt about a decision they made. I am always puzzled as to how family members justify their actions. I recognize that they think they are looking out for my own good, but if the evaluation of my personal good is somehow rated on a scale of do’s and do not’s than I will most definitely fail.
My best guess as to why this happens in a family is that some family members do not respect the personal boundaries of its members. I once had an aunt who would unabashedly criticize my clothing choice, the way in which I stood, and the value of my manners within the first five minutes of meeting with her. In my aunt’s defense, I am quite sure that she had good intentions, but there were many times when I would have rather been a stranger at the door selling a vacuum than her niece stopping by for a visit.
Mother’s are the worst, and as a mother, I have to evaluate how I respect or disrespect my own adult children. It is a bit harder on the parent side of the equation and I have much more grace when it comes to my aunts and my mom. Sometimes I would much rather comment or yell at my adult children rather than respect their choices and allow them to make their own mistakes. But I can’t do that because, I choose to handle my children with basic respect; they are now responsible adults in this world. I admit that sometimes I have to remind myself that they are no longer kids. I have only my child’s best interest at heart but the damage I could inflict on them if I choose to disrespect their personal boundaries is simply not worth it. So I will struggle silently, and watch enthusiastically as my children become the amazing people I already know they are!