Recently Bill Murray crashed a bachelor party and gave some great advice to the groom to be – travel with someone and if your relationship can survive the trip, marry them. I couldn’t agree more. Travel can be very stressful and you really get to know someone when you’re with them 24/7. As most of you know my son and I recently had a 10 day vacation ourselves. As much as I’d like to say that I handled it like a pro, at one point on our cruise I threatened to leave him in Jamaica (yes, that’s the loving and compassionate parent I am). Thankfully I decided leaving him in Jamaica was probably not a good idea and we both made it back safe and sound. When I arrived Monday to my office one of the first emails I opened was one about compassionate parenting (oh no).
I often talk a lot about the importance of compassion. In EEGs they can actually see a shift in the brain when someone is performing an act of compassion (the prefrontal region of the brain – happiness area - lights up). What I don’t always remember is that one way to be compassionate is to accept someone as they are and not allow my own “perception” of how things “should” be to get in the way of acceptance. It is not anyone else’s job to make me happy, nor is it my responsibility to be in charge of their emotions. When we have concern for others it actually increases our own sense of well-being. When I lost compassion for my son (hence the threat of leaving him in a foreign country) it caused a loss of happiness for myself.
With this lesson fresh on my mind, I think I might manage our conflicts a little differently in the future. It’s not that it wasn’t OK that I got terribly frustrated (you try traveling with a 13 year old that thinks deodorant and showers are optional, rarely listens, and needs to eat every 2 hours) – it was that I allowed my frustration to get in the way of viewing him with compassion which robbed me of my own joy. Before you call child protective services, please know that I love my son my than life itself and would never actually do anything that would cause him harm. I will, however, consider springing for the larger room next time J.