When I was a young man I didn’t understand the nuances of relationships. Really, I was pretty clueless. Over the years I made a lot of mistakes and got a lot of advice, some good and some bad. Despite all this well-intended advice I was somehow able to meet the love of my life, and she has stuck with me for an amazing 29 years of trial-and-error. Now that I am older (much older) I’d like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two about the games people play.Which is what makes it so hard when you see your teenage and early 20’s children struggling with relationship issues.
Over the last several years I’ve watched my sons riding high on the wave of romance, a dance in their step, a wink in their eye, and a joy for life, all because a new girl has appeared in their life. In contrast to this I’ve watched in agony as they struggle through breakups. It is painful for them and painful for me. What I really wish is that they would just let me run their life; tell them what to do. That would solve everything, wouldn’t it? I could just use my great experience from a lifetime of relationship struggles to offer some guidance and straighten things out.
But it doesn’t work that way. It seems that every generation has to work this out on their own. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is it necessary that darkness exist, just to demonstrate the beauty of light? Perhaps we have to experience the pain of the breakup before we can fully enjoy the delight of commitment.
So here’s to all young people everywhere who are struggling with relationships, and to their parents who care enough to try and offer their advice. May we learn to listen to each other.
Duane Highley is the father of four older children, ages 14 to 25. He and his wife Lisa reside in Springfield.