Your parents were your first teachers in relationships, now you're the parent

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 21, 2015, 10:40 PM | comments: 0

One of the things that stuck with me more than anything about my post-divorce therapy was the suggestion that your parents are your first teachers about relationships. My parents split when I was very young, and my mom and step-dad honestly never really exhibited a lot of relationship behavior toward each other in front of me, positive or negative. I suppose I didn't have a lot to go on. That said, it has been remarkable to see the impact of those teachers on the women with whom I've had relationships.

Fascinating as this exercise is in terms of self-awareness or armchair shrinking your mate, I recently had the horrifying realization that this is now a responsibility I have for my child. There are a great many ways you want to set a good example for your kid, but setting a blueprint for working in an intimate relationship is one I suppose I haven't thought much about.

This might be something that ordinarily you wouldn't over-think, but Simon has a way of taking things too literally. Maybe it's the ASD, but he generally has no use for hierarchy or the context of authority. When we correct him for misbehaving, he corrects us for "making him sad." To be sure, this isn't him trying to induce guilt. Diana and I do not play guilt games (we're very self-aware about this), and frankly I don't think he has the capacity to understand guilt yet. So any kind of toxic behavior that we might exhibit toward each other, he's likely to accept as protocol.

I think we're generally good to each other. We hug and kiss, kind of check-in with each other periodically, hold hands (when Simon doesn't insist on cutting in), help each other out, etc. But I do find myself being impatient or short with Diana when I'm stressed out or otherwise spent for some reason (work, Simon, home maintenance), and I know he's seen that. I have to be careful about that.

I still don't know how people have kids in their 20's. There are days when I barely feel like I have my shit together now, let alone in my 20's. I would definitely not have qualified as any kind of role model then.


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