Nick has literally been handed his purpose in life and it certainly didn’t appear on a silver platter. No, his purpose rolled up in a stroller, in the form of his son Kyle.
As suggested last column, Nick has mixed feelings about his role as a single parent. While he wants to do the responsible thing, there’s no doubt that it will cramp his lifestyle.
The loss of his freedom is not Nick’s main concern, however. Though he wouldn’t want to admit it, Nick is frightened. He perceives that “everyone” is waiting, perhaps even hoping, that he will fail.
He’s heard, “Don’t see how you’re going to handle that young fella of yours. It’s going to be a mighty big change for you!” Nick’s suspicion is that folks are whispering, “He can’t care for that boy! What does he know about caring for a youngster? You just wait; this is going to be a disaster.”
Regardless of whether the naysayers actually exist, or whether Nick perceives doubters where there are none, the fact is that he is truly uncertain about what he’s doing. On the one hand, he would like to prove the naysayers wrong. On the other hand, he has a strong fear that they may be right.
Nick struggles with how to handle his new responsibilities: finding a trustworthy, affordable caregiver, planning meals, keeping appointments. It’s a whole new world; he has never needed these skills before.
And then there’s Kyle’s behaviour. Kyle is outstanding with his grandmother, their neighbour, or the babysitter. They don’t need to shout at Kyle to get his attention. As soon as Kyle is with Nick, though, he becomes a little monster! What’s up with that? “He should respect me; I’m his father!”
Here are two pieces of information that could be helpful for Nick (or anyone) during a vulnerable time.
- People need information—we don’t instinctively know everything. Rather than looking at the outside world as if it is sitting in judgment of your performance, expecting you to fail, enlist it to help you succeed. Ask for suggestions!
So Nick, who sees Kyle following his grandmother’s instructions but not his, can ask grandma what she does that’s different from what he does. Then try it!
- Focus on the relationship. How well or how poorly this situation turns out will largely be determined by how well you manage to get along. And remember—it’s worth some effort to get along.
So instead of perceiving Kyle as an adversary who must be controlled, Nick could try looking at Kyle as a partner. The two of you are in this together. You’re a team! Try making a sandwich together, and see if that works better than yelling at Kyle as you try to make lunch.
Even uncomplicated relationships aren’t guaranteed success, and Nick and Kyle’s relationship offers plenty of opportunities for uncertainty. However, as long as Nick remembers that life is no longer just about him; but that the two of them—the team—takes priority, he’ll be headed in a positive direction.
What do you think?