The coronavirus pandemic has been very bad for many things – but it has given many parents – myself included – extra time to talk with their children.
Just the other day, I was chatting with one of our sons and a tender subject came up.
It involved the sudden and unexpected death of one of his friends. We’ve talked about it in the past and even prayed and grieved over it as a family, but we’ve probably never discussed it as deeply or as meaningfully as we did this time around.
Death is a difficult subject in general and a lot of people don’t like talking about it.
Probably due to my background, I think it’s important to talk about it with our children – on an age-appropriate level, of course.
When I was a boy and my mom was dying of cancer, everybody around me was afraid to bring up the subject. At the time, I was 9-years-old. In fact, the subject was so taboo that nobody even told me my mother was in her last days. I knew she was sick, but assumed she would recover.
As she deteriorated, they wouldn’t even let me see her.
Given the way I was shut out of my mother’s illness, her death came as a complete shock to me. My mom was there one moment and gone the next. I never even had a moment to tell her how much I loved her. That remains one of the greatest regrets of my life.
With that as a backdrop, maybe you’ll have a better appreciation of why our conversation the other day meant so much to me. I’m still trying to process it.
My son said, “Dad, I really appreciate the fact that you tell me like it is – even with subjects like this one.”
I had shared with him how painful it’s been to lose friends to death and he shared with me how much that point of connection meant to him.
“Dad, I’m able to connect with you emotionally,” he said. “You set the tone for me to begin to grieve.”
I had never thought about it in those terms – but that’s a good example of how even our seemingly passing comments to our children can set the tone for deeper and more meaningful conversations.
As a parent, don’t hesitate to share some of your challenges and difficulties with your children. Again, on an age-appropriate basis, of course, but it’s good they realize you struggle, too.
Connecting emotionally with our loved ones is something of an art form – and it’s also a wonderful gift of our Creator.
It was the late Leo Buscaglia – otherwise known as the “Doctor of Love” – who once observed, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which has the potential to turn a life around.”
I hope you’re taking this extra time to invest in the lives of the people you love and who mean the most to you.