business partners analyzing a database structureHave you got an old story about what Dad “should” have done?

Or, the things he did that you think he should not have? That’s common.

BEWARE: You may have him in an old box, like an old software version. Here’s a little relationship advice to update your program:

Regarding Dad, there is one thing, we can guarantee: he is human. So, perfection is immediately off the table!  He had the same issue you have: he made mistakes. Maybe, he’s still making them.

If you had a great Dad who definitely contributed more to your life than the occasional detracting idiosyncrasies or blow-ups, you can be grateful.  This post is for folks who experienced something different from that.

You are the sum total of your past experiences and current decisions. So is Dad.  The problem I run into repeatedly with my clients is they often don’t recognize that they are running a current machine on old programming. Then, they wonder why it isn’t working.

You know the process:

  • You like your old software because you know it, glitches, inconveniences and all. 
  • You know there is better out there but you procrastinate.
  • You procrastinate because you don’t want to pay the money (time, energy) and engage in the learning curve.
  • You wait until your program completely crashes before you take positive action by regularly updating it, OR
  • You wait until your program completely crashes and take no action beyond throwing the machine out the window while screaming at it’s inadequacies.
  • You sometimes even try to put the old program on a new machine and find it terribly inadequate and crippling, but you persist.
  • You run headlong into an internal conflict on the machine and realize that it is caused by the antiquated program.
  • You purchase the new software with a mixture of resentment and excitement, thinking that you are being “forced” to do it.
  • You scream, hiss and decry the new stuff because it is unfamiliar, new territory and it’s scary.
  • Then you get two options:
    • You quit, blame the program and machine, and tell the terrible tale of the old software forever.
    • You stick with it, install the new program,  and find that it truly made your life easier and satisfying.

Now, which are you going to do with Dad?  CD

My suggestion to you is to notice that Dad has probably been through a few versions since you made your intractable decisions about who he is.  Have you downloaded his updates, or are you resisting that, thinking that you know who is because you know who he was…you think?

You want your Dad to notice that you’ve grown, changed, embraced new ideas and practices. You want him to recognize that you’re not twelve any more. But, is there a chance that you’ve got him locked into an earlier stage of his life and won’t let him out?

Do you know who your Dad is now and what he thinks, wants, feels and needs?  Have you asked him lately? That’s a great gift you can give to both of you.

Sure, there were Dads who punished, manipulated, discounted and abused their children. You know what?  Even some of them would like to apologize and start fresh. Maybe your Dad is one of them.

But, if you don’t start up an open conversation about who you both are now, rather than heaping complaints on him about who he was or wasn’t, you’ll never have the opportunity of knowing him now.

Update the program called “Dad” and install.  You’ll have to go to the source for that. Don’t take anyone else’s updates, unless Dad is unavailable. You may find it to be a more rewarding learning curve than you could have ever expected!  Then, you’ll be so glad you have so many years to look forward to with the new program!

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, offers coaching, classes and mediation in-person in her office in Escondido, CA, and online through Zoom video and audio. If you need relationship advice now, contact her directly at The Optimize Center, 760.593.4604 or email her at RS@ForRelationshipHelp.com 

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