My step-son’s biological father enters in and out of his life whenever it seems the seasons’ change. He whirls in like a hip Santa, with gifts galore; toys, clothing, and, on one occassion, even a cell phone (which I, like the Grinch, snatched away). In the beginning, I felt as if I were merely filling in until his ‘real dad’ got his act together. I wondered how much I could invest emotionally in my step-son while safeguarding myself against future rejection from him.
Attempting to grasp this began a journey for me of finally responding to my soul’s call for acceptance. Over time, I realized that the root of the rejection I feared from my step-son stemmed from insecurities developed during my childhood. Love, in my family of origin, was synonymous with achievement, performance, action; but not being. I felt inadequate whenever I couldn’t please my parents. I resented the fact that I was imperfect.
In my teenage years, those desires for acceptance became like insatiable wildfires, fueled by the very affirmations they devoured. Even in adulthood, my desperation for unconditional love waned little. As a father, my unresolved issues were straining my relationship with my step-son, causing me to become more and more emotionally unavailable, and that, frankly, frightened me.
I wanted more for him, and if that meant confronting my demons, then confront them I must do.
And, in the midst of grasping my personal worth, my love for him grew as my love for self grew. I experienced self-love to be stronger than shame and greater than all fear.
It’s now my desire to, not only embrace the good in my step-son, but the bad, and the ugly as well. I want him to know the depth of my love, and that, even when he doesn’t fulfill my expectations, he’ll always be my beloved. What he needs most is precisely what all children need most: that’s for us as parents to live in such a way that we teach them how to accept their humanity through our examples of self-love.
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