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Feeding The Bear

Feeding The Bear This has been a week of odd occurrences. The oddest on involves an eighteen year-old high school senior. His father kicked him out of his house because he forgot to take the trash out. I was told by his mother that the young man had a habit of not taking the trash out on time regularly. The father had enough of his son's irresponsible behavior, so out the door he goes.This young man does extremely well in high school. Has great grades, attends church weekly on his own volition, washes his own clothes, cooks his own meals and meals for others in his father's house. I bet he even makes his bed in the morning. He does not smoke, drink alcohol or use marijuana or other drugs. He has never had a speeding ticket nor any traffic violation what - so - ever. He is off to college this fall with full scholarship. He is a handsome young man and has an attractive and kind girl friend. He respects his parents and is almost always compliant with their demands. But for some reason he failed to take the garbage out on Wednesday nights for six weeks in a row. So his father decided a fair punishment would be to kick him out of his house. If this does not sound like a Woody Allen movie, nothing else will.It just so happens that his parents are divorced for a couple of years. They were married for over twenty years. His mother lives in a simple apartment with very few amenities. She is a beautiful woman not only physically but emotionally as well. She has a temper but only when things get so disturbed that she has to assert her will to get things done. She works and has never been a stay - at - home mom. She is devoted to her children to the point that she allowed them to make their decisions about where they wished to live during and after the divorce. She is a noble person. I suspect the father thought that he would punish his son by sentencing him to live the rest of his senior high school days and summer with his mother, a fate worse than death. I cannot speak to the rationality of this entire situation, but the chaos it caused the young man and his mother was profound. His mother gladly received her son into her small apartment and spent hours trying to settle his emotions down. She did not raise her voice. She stayed calm as she swam through the storms of their rocky post-marital disturbances. Her son will be alright, so will she.So what would possess a father to kick his son out of the house for not taking out the garbage? The emotion of jealousy. What? A father jealous of his son instead of proud? How can that be? It happens more than we know. How do I know about the emotion of jealousy in a father? Because one summer my father kicked me out of the house because I did not mind his curfew of 10:00 PM. I was 22 years-old, had my own pool building business while going to medical school. Within a week's time of hid decree to have me ousted, I had to find a place to live because he felt I was disrespectful staying out on week nights past midnight. I had never had a traffic violation, ran my own business while going to medical school, made my own lunches for work, bought my own food as to not be a burden to my grandmother and did the landscape duties in my grandmother's yard. I had a girl friend at that time, but she was no threat to anyone. I did not drink alcohol or do drugs, and I was up at the crack of dawn each day to go to my worksites to finish the jobs. I bought my own tools, paid for my own vehicles, paid for my medical school and college with money I earned, loans and scholarships. I was absolutely no burden to him ever. But at 22 year-old, since I did not abide by his curfew, I had to leave my grandmother's home within one week. And I did, gladly.The day after I moved my things out of the house, my father had a heart attack while he was picking up some heavy boxes at his workplace. I was called by my Uncle to respond to the hospital to help clarify my father's condition. I went. It was an odd situation to show compassion for a man who just kicked me out of my grandmother's home. But I did. My Uncle told me to return to my grandmother's home to watch over her until my father was out of the hospital. I did just that. And after he was release home, I moved out again. Needless to say, over the following years my relationship with my father was strained.Fifteen years later, I decided to try and mend my relationship with my dad. I asked him to attend a conference with me in Washington DC. I was working as a toxicologist at that time and I wanted to testify to a group of congressman about the proposed new drug testing laws. My father agreed to come. I paid for all of his expenses. The second night of the conference, after I publically made my contempt about the proposed laws to several congressmen and raised a few eye brows, my father and I went to dinner. I took that opportunity to ask him why he was so harsh to me. He paused for a moment, just looked at me as if he was blindsided by the IRS. I asked him a second time. He finally responded, "I treated you harshly because I was jealous of you. You accomplished everything you set out to do in life. I was a failure in most things. Regardless of what you wanted to do, you did it. I was jealous and I still am. You talked to congressmen today. Spoke your opinion without regard to the consequences. You have courage. You have conviction. I do not." Well, you could imagine the shock that went through my body at that moment of truth. I would never have thought that my dad was jealous of me. He continued, "I will always be jealous of you. It's never gonna change." That message was also sad. He was never going to give me a break. He was always going to be hard on me. But at that moment, I understood why. He was a narcissist and a jealous one at that. Knowing he was a jealous man did not make my life any easier when I was in his presence, but it helped me give grace to such a broken person. I also guarded against the emotion of jealousy while rearing my two children. I have pride in their accomplishments and respect their decisions regardless of their emotional effects on me. They will take the credit for their accomplishments and be responsible for their mistakes. I am in the back ground giving them advice when and only when they ask for it. Unsolicited advice is merely criticism to anyone hearing it, especially to our children.When I got off the phone with the young man's mother, I hoped that she realized that only two emotions would provoke such a moronic decision to kick her son out of their marital residence because he forgot to take the garbage out. The first was guilt. The second was jealousy. From the sounds of the situation, my vote was jealousy. And that will never be fixed. The more successful that young man is, the more jealous his father will become. There will be rage filled times for no apparent reason since a jealous person cannot reason without condescension or communicate without disrespect. Any jealous parents in your life? If there is, just stay away unless it's absolutely necessary to be around them and acknowledge that each time you interact with them, you’re feeding a bear at the zoo with your arm in the cage. And you only have two arms.Doc
Posted by Amanda Sanders at 11:15 AM
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