Real Help for Real Living: Now I’m getting lectures from my son-in-law

Anthony MarcianoMy external compliance and internal rebellion don’t always line up.  No, I’m not talking about my personal and public life.  I am committed to being consistent and operating with integrity.  Externally, I come across as this very compliant person who follows rules and doesn’t rock the boat.  Internally, I want to color outside the lines.  I’m a non-conformist.  There is this voice that says, (as Frank Sinatra sang) “I did it my way.”  When I was ten years old, my mother said to me, “You better work for yourself because you’ll never be able to work for someone else.”  At ten, mom figured me out.  I am grateful for the work I do which gives me a lot of freedom to be me while being held accountable to a board of directors.

When my son Ed was younger, he questioned why I didn’t wear gloves while working on projects?  Where were my safety goggles?  I ignored him.  Today, I can still hear his voice.  I wear gloves and safety goggles.  Just don’t tell him.

A few months ago, my son in law of less than 12 months (note the time frame) called me out on something I didn’t want to do.  The dynamics of my family is that my 90+ year old mother who has Alzheimer’s lives with me.  It takes two home health aides, two daughters and one daughter- in-law to provide 24/7 care for her.  My sister took a job outside DC leaving us with one less person to care for her.  While I knew she needed the job, I was annoyed she didn’t sit down with us to discuss its impact on our schedule.  She was leaving “dodge” and we were left alone to figure it out.

My son-in-law asked me if I was going to talk to her.  I said, “No.”  That’s when I got the speech.  He took five years of lectures from me and rolled it into one lecture from him.  He reminded me how I said we should always do the right thing, even if it is not well received.  I said, “No.”  He argued with me.  I repeated, “No.”  He was relentless.  I changed the subject.

A few days later I had to pick my sister up from the repair shop where she dropped off her car. I discussed with her that I was happy she landed this job and didn’t expect her to stay behind to take care of mom.  I did expect her to sit down with all of us and discuss the impact it had on our schedules.  She commented on it.  Feeling I was on a roll, I brought to her attention that I felt she was treating me the way Dad treated me (we had discussed Dad’s style many times.)  She acknowledged my comments.

I’d like to tell you we held hands, frolicked through the fields, and chased butterflies.  We didn’t. I said what I had to say. Her response was cool and aloof.

It reminded of the phrase, “I’m responsible to you; I’m not responsible for you.”  It was my responsibility to bring to my sisters’ attention the tension in our relationship. I was to share with her my concerns.  But I was not responsible for her reaction or lack thereof.  I wasn’t responsible if she apologized or not.  It wasn’t my responsibility if she made amends or not. I was responsible to her, not for her.

You’ll be happy to know I am getting better at taking suggestions. I just don’t like getting lectures from my kids.