I don’t like the way emotions make me feel!
This classic teenage line was spoken by my own daughter during a teen *moment*. She knew what she was saying was silly but she also hated the roller coaster of emotion that teens are heir to. We all have feelings that we’d like to discard at times.
I thought of that line when a dear man I know, the Christian spouse in an interfaith family, said to me, “It’s so hard to worry about how the kids respond to various religious practices. Couldn’t we do what we want and hope it all turns out fine?” Of course he was joking, kind of. I had to give him a hug because it was clear that he didn’t relish the idea of digging down into feelings and all that murky stuff. Seriously though, there are far more parents who avoid that conversation than who make identity formation a conscious part of their parenting job. Why? Primarily two reasons – one, they really don’t have any idea how to even discuss identity with their spouse and kids. Two, it feels uncomfortable, to down right painful, to be out of sync with your partner.
I get it.
“Thank God, we’re not stuck anymore!” is the most common phrase I hear from couples after we’ll talked. It really doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. Think of it like cleaning out the hall closet. Everybody’s stuff is in there. You’re not sure what to do with the belongings of others. It will take time. What if your spouse wants to toss your favorite old sweater? So think of me as a professional organizer. We’ll sort through all that “stuff”, create some order and priorities. We’ll finish up with a plan to keep the closet neat in the future. Think of me as the Konmari of relationships.