Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Eating Crow

One of the hardest things to do is admit when we are wrong. We posture, we obfuscate the truth, we do everything we can to keep from saying "I was wrong".

My sixteen year-old daughter and I got into a row on Friday night about her doing something that I thought was being subversive toward her friend's parents. We never took the time to completely understand each other's positions. When she acted contrary to my understanding of what the "truth" was, I got VERY angry with her.

We didn't speak again until this evening. My wife was the intermediary. I told my version of events based on MY understanding and my teenage daughter told hers. We had the conversation we should have had in the first place. I felt like a fool, but had to admit, "I was wrong".

I am reminded of the movie "Doubt". In the movie, Meryl Streep, Sister Beauvier, becomes convinced that Father Flynn (Paul Seymour Hoffman) is abusing altar boys. She confronts him in a roundabout way, to his complete astonishment. After this, he gives a sermon about "Gossip" and provides a very moving story about the negative effects of it. Sister Beauvier in undeterred and continues down the path to oust him as Assistant Pastor. In the end, you're left with the impression that Father Flynn did no wrong, but Sister Beauvier cannot admit it to herself and becomes a pitiful sight, overwhelmed by the emotions of misplaced doubt.

Our impressions of reality are born out of our life's experiences. We read into events based on those experiences and have a very difficult time when those experiences cannot interpret events accurately. Call it the human condition.

I apologized to my daughter for being wrong and now have to remake MY reality and a relationship that is born out of truth and not filtered by my past experiences. Ah, the joys of step-parenting!

Addendum: What's really, really hard is dealing with the aftermath of the apology. Especially from the intermediary!

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