How about a math problem? or Maybe a kids playground nursery rhyme? Kinda strange to hear on a relationship blog right?
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally OR…
Parenthesis Exponents Multiplication Division Addition Subtraction
The above is what we were all taught on how the pictured math problem is solved. The fundamentals of solving basic math problems. There is a very specific way of doing things to get the right answer.
Anybody remember singing this song on the playground?
(Girl’s name) and (boy’s name) sitting in the tree
K-i-s-s-i-n-g! (spell it out)
First comes love.
Then comes marriage.
Then comes baby* in the baby carriage
So as early as primary school we are taught basic problem solving and that there are specific orders of things, Certain ways of doing this to get it right.
But what about relationships? What were we taught about them? Who taught us? We learned by watching. We watched our parents, friends, friends parents, relatives, and we learned every good and bad habit from them.
Where did the people we learned from learn about relationships? They learned from the people around them. So here is the perpetuating problem.
Tell me if this sounds familiar….
- You are born
- Grow up
- Graduate High School
- Go to College and Graduate
- Meet someone along the way. NO SEX UNTIL YOU’RE MARRIED
- Get Married
- Start a career become financially stable.
- Have Kids
- Raise Kids teaching them this specific ordered list.
That may be the curriculum I was taught but I sure as hell didn’t follow it. Point of fact I completely screwed that list up. Who developed the curriculum to teach local societal youth on how relationships are supposed to be? I didn’t. I learned more about relationships in my 30s than I ever did as a child. I would argue that I should have learned when I was a teenager.
Here was my order between Birth and Death…
- Met someone had sex. It was awkward and kinda sucked, pun intended.
- Graduated High school
- Met someone else had sex. Whoops she got pregnant.
- Went to college as a single parent, never graduated.
- Met my wife got married
- Had more kids
- Started my Career
- Got divorced (still raising children shared parenting)
The last step and all subsequent steps are blank because there is no order to things. I also skipped a few things. Like the first one. The more I think of it I hate the phrase “Grow up”. To me telling someone to grow up is trying to hurry life’s education. I am constantly learning and growing and evolving.
Are you out of High School or college and never had a first kiss? Or didn’t start college until your kids “left the nest”? Starting a career at 18 or 62? None of these things are wrong or out of order. It is YOUR order!
So being divorced what do I teach my children? Do I do what I was taught to do and keep shoving that “Right” list down my kids throats? Do I still believe that list is even possible? The answer is that there is no list to teach them.
I have found that specific orders to things belong in mathematics and nursery rhymes. When it comes to solving life’s complex problems the answer is almost as clear cut as the the above photo. And I do believe that “Purple, because aliens don’t wear hats. Its the correct answer.
So what do I teach my children? I do what any good parent does. I naturally teach my kids what I felt I needed when I was their age. I encourage then where they need encouragement, I step out of their way when they need to solve their own problems, I meditate or lead them to the answer when they can’t solve them on their own, and I teach them about my own life’s mishaps. I tell them that I did this thing, this is why I thought it was a good idea at the time, and this is why it wasn’t and here are the potential consequences of those choices. Here is what may have been, good or bad, based upon that decision.
One very important lesson I teach them when it comes to the list is that there is no list to teach them. They need to make up their own list. Their list will be made up by the benefits and the consequences of the choices that they will ultimately make. Now that does not mean I am going to hand them a box of condoms the day they turn into teenagers but it does mean that I will talk to them about my experiences in that arena when the time comes.
When speaking to them on life’s lessons though, I am careful to teach them not to “What if”. What If is a dangerous place to go and people will drive themselves into madness questioning past choices. I accept every decision I have ever made good or bad, hurtful or happy. To change one minor detail of my past my have a ripple effect on my present or future. I would never change anything from my past for it might risk the gifts I have in the present.
I’ll leave this here with a Kung Fu Panda quote. “The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present!”
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