Certainly I’ve read or heard this thought elsewhere. It’s a climactic moment in the movie Jerry McGuire, where Jerry interrupts a meeting of women in a living room who are taking much of the male gender to task. Tom Cruise’s character says the famous dramatic line, “You complete me. It’s a great movie moment, a fantastic line, but an utterly horrible relationship perspective. Why? Because if anyone believes a relationship with another person is all that they need to make them complete, well, it cannot and will not succeed. That is a lot of pressure for one person to complete them. You will not find completion in a husband or wife, son or daughter. But we do still need each other.
So, with that in mind, how do we make decisions about who to connect with?
How we connect with people is a critical part of growing up and living with others. People need people. We are designed to be in relationship. Relationships are an investment and require multiple components: commitment, connection, listening, and trust. So, let’s talk about listening and trust (If you would like to read on commitment and connection, go here to the article Sticks and Stones).
One of the things I believe we are missing in our relationships with our children, and thus the culture as a whole, is that youth generally don’t listen to adults, particularly their parents. We can come up with tons of examples of this, but an easy one involves learning to drive a car. The typical scene we can imagine, or went through ourselves, involves our parents giving constant instruction, pushing imaginary brake pedals on the passenger side, and often covering their faces to shield themselves from the impending disaster. The teenagers, on the other hand, feel like they have everything under control and continue to say: “I know, “It’s fine, “I’ve got this, Relax, or simply; “Mom!
The scene may bring back memories but if you stop and think about it, the adults in this situation are the only ones who truly have the experience and thus the expertise to give proper advice. There are many more illustrations, from sex, to choosing the right friends, to money, and all sorts of other areas that we see this same story played out. Adults simply have experience that youth lack. While the circumstances may be slightly different, the fundamentals are the same.
Although parents today didn’t have Twitter or Snapchat when they were young, that doesn’t mean that they do not have an understanding of social relationships, communication, or even being misunderstood. That’s good news moms and dads! Because, as always, you are the one who is best equipped to be your child’s teacher.
However, like all things, there are two perspectives that we must understand. One of the reasons youth don’t listen to adults, is because adults don’t listen to youth. Your son, daughter, grandson, niece, etc. are the exact people who can help you understand what is taking place in the world today. They are young and have so much opportunity going for them. The future is right there. They are not sore physically. They don’t wake up with pains and aches. They have far more career choices. They remember more. However, they lack experience, patience, understanding and wisdom so their results follow suit. While adulthood and experience have made us more efficient, if you are not listening to them, then they will not listen to you. Listening is fundamental to relationships and as parents; you don’t simply meet them halfway. You have to cross more of the gap to reach them where they are, since they are unable to come to where you are.
Without trust, no relationship can really exist as trust implies reliance on other people. Trust speaks to an event in the future, but comes from experiences in the past.
Think about trust for a moment, as it implies two things:
- My experience in the past leads me to believe that something in the future will take place.
- Therefore, I trust it will or trust it will not take place.
Some people trust others, while some do not. Doesn’t that come from experience?
For parents, this is where we are called to cover more of the gap. We have to go more than just meeting them halfway. It is our responsibility to create a safe space for our children to both succeed and fail. This is a place where adults understand that making mistakes, learning, and overcoming challenges are all a part of growing up. It’s also a part of trusting the decisions they make when they “get behind the wheel.
Trust always comes from experience. For the most part, in our relationships we want to be trusted. But developing a truly meaningful trust filled relationship takes time. When I was 23 years old, I applied for my first credit card. My credit limit was a whopping $700. That was the extent of my credit, and essentially, the extent of the bank’s trust in me. They limited their risk while still giving me an opportunity to succeed in managing my finances.
In time, I earned more trust by faithfully meeting my commitments. Now I can borrow money for a car and a house. My credit history is good. I have given the bank a reason to trust me. And so, they are far more willing to extend me credit now than when I was 23.
If life is like that, why not teach life to your children. If they are not committed, not connected, and will not listen, yet you continue to extend trust with no limits, then do not be surprised when they take advantage of you. And do not be surprised when you see them failing in critical areas of life because they have not been taught how to trust or how to be trustworthy.
Some of the most important decisions we make in life are directly influenced by those with whom we spend our time. God designed us to be in relationship with Him and each other. The genius of Jesus’ words still ring true, that we might love our neighbor as ourselves. It seems an impossible task as it requires us to take our focus off of ourselves and place it onto someone else. All real relationships, those that are profoundly satisfying, require that. The investment that we make into others demonstrates our level of commitment and connection to what we value. The return is the quality of the relationships that you have with your Savior, spouse, children, and family. If your relationships are not satisfying, the first place to start is to check your level of commitment and connection. Change starts with you.
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