A Complex Dilemma

I've been thinking about the letters I wrote home to my parents and some of the things I shared with them.   As I read through them now, sifting through their contents, I sometimes wonder what in the world I was thinking.  Many of the details I shared with them about being pregnant and some of the challenges and difficulties I was facing must have been hard for them to read.  I didn't have a telephone most of the time I was pregnant.  We mostly relied on letters to communicate and those letters took time to travel back and forth.  While I was experiencing the resolution of what ended up being minor issues, they were sitting half way around the world wondering what was happening.

Technology today has come so far that we can communicate almost instantly with friends and family.  In 1990 I was relying on snail mail.  Phone calls were expensive, so we didn't talk very often.  It has dawned on me that my decisions have often forced family members to have an amazing amount of faith and trust.  One time after traveling to the United States, we didn't call our parents to let them know we had gotten back to Nairobi safely.  Looking back now, we realize how insensitive we were.  When we were younger, we just didn't realize what we were putting our parents through.  We were busy living out this exciting dream and having almost daily adventures along the way.  Life was grand, albeit a bit challenging.   While we wouldn't change many of the life decisions we made, we would try to be more sensitive about our communications.

Or would we?

Now that I am the parent of adult children, I realize there are some details I really don't want to know about my children's lives.  For example, I don't necessarily want to know if Nick drove home at one in the morning last week.  And I don't want to know when Kati walks around Philly in the evening hours.  I will continue to pray daily for the safety and care of my children, but I don't want to know too many details.  I WANT them to have grand adventures.  I WANT them to experience new things.  I WANT them to explore and travel and live life to the full.  And I hope to hear all about it when they get back home safely.

On the other hand, I want to be available and have the kind of relationship that they feel comfortable talking to me about anything they desire. I guess it's kind of a complex dilemma.  Finding the balance of sharing our lives and being sensitive at the same time can be complicated.  For example, there are some difficult challenges my family is facing at the moment and I want to know what is going on.  I want to know details.  I want to be supportive.  It is disheartening to be far away when people you love are suffering in any way.  I want to be able to pray and listen and try to offer comfort. 

 It seems I've come full circle in my thinking.  While I wonder at the wisdom in sharing all those details with my parents, I know that if Kati or Nick was going through a challenging time I would want to know all the details they were willing to share.  I would want the opportunity to pray and comfort and share and help if I could.  Or just the chance to listen.  Oh well, I guess it's just something we figure out and make up as we go...

Lori ZieglerComment