Strong enough to bend

By Dad AKA Matt

I started writing this post about fatherhood several months ago but never finished. As I started reading it over once more, I realized just how relevant it is. I decided to keep the original section regarding a parenting style/mindset but tie it into how we can apply it to the issues of today.

In my opinion, the best fathers (and mothers) are strong, not necessarily in the physical sense, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. In fact, they are strong enough to bend, without breaking. This tends to fly in the face of popular opinion because people often think the strongest never back down, never give an inch. However, if we don’t have the capacity to understand our children’s perspective, what are we teaching them? If it’s simply “my way or the highway”, does that mean we say we love them and would do anything for them, but not enough to care what they say or think? It is our job to show them we will always do what we believe is in their best interest, while also valuing their input.

The best analogy that comes to mind relates to trees. When a storm blows through town, ripping the roofs off houses and flipping over cars, the strongest trees are left standing. Those are the trees that are rooted firmly but able to bend with the wind. There is much to be learned from these resilient organisms! A Malay proverb states, “a tree with strong roots laughs at the storm”. 

This “seek to understand” quality doesn’t have to pertain only to parents. Our society is dealing with some very controversial topics right now. The pandemic has people scared and frustrated by the challenges that come with trying to keep people safe. To wear a mask or not? To send kids back to school or keep them home?People around us are going to say and do things that challenge our opinions and our beliefs. One of the things that make the human race so special is the ability to listen and empathize with one another. This ability to function as a society, despite our differences, is what makes us great. Right now we are weathering some massive storms, testing our ability to bend without breaking. If we start treating each other the way a loving parent treats his child, with patience and understanding, we might begin to heal and stand tall once more.


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