When I was 17, I thought I could do just about anything and this included being able to hold my liquor. Most of my friends drank and this was pretty common growing up in New Orleans. The night started off pretty easy going to a friends house where I proceeded to drink hurricane’s while we sat by the pool. We sat around and talked about friends and life and I proceeded to drink most of a bottle of rum because I thought I could. Needless to say, I got very intoxicated and a full on barf-o-rama ensued.
Fast forwarding to the end of the night, I remember pieces of the car ride, my friends calling my parents house to explain my state, and the thing I will never forget was being carried into my parents’ house and my father’s reaction. Lucky for me, my mom was out of town and it was just my dad at home. In my less lucid state, I remember the feeling behind my dad’s words when he saw me. He wasn’t angry but he was deeply moved. I remember him thanking my friends for taking care of me and bringing me home and I felt like he was really sad for me.
The next morning I woke up and immediately felt a lot of guilt and anxiety about the night before. I wasn’t sure what to say to my father as I really couldn’t excuse what had happened. I had a feeling my parents would be angry as I had a pretty vicious power struggle with them in high school. My dad came into my room to check on me and saw I was awake. He said, “Billy, you really scared me last night. I felt so helpless seeing you that way. It was almost like you were dead. I love you and hope you will make better decisions for yourself. If anything happened to you, it would devastate me.”
I don’t remember the rest of what he said but I recognized it as being different from the way my parents would normally approach me. I realized how I had tested the emotional connective tissue that tied me to my father and it reminded me just how special that relationship was. Even now as I write this story I tear up a little as it meant a lot to me. I recognize now that he connected to me from his heart and related what had clearly been scary for him even though it would have been so much easier to react through his anger. The love that he showed me caused me to grow in ways that no punishment ever had.
In telling this story, I write it as a bit of a reminder to the parents as they work with their kids. Some of the greatest power that parents have comes from their relationship with their kids and letting their kids struggle a bit with the consequences in life. This isn’t to say parents shouldn’t have rules and discipline in their homes, but I hope it is a reminder of the importance of the power of the emotional connection to your children.
Brought to you by Just Mind, counselors in Austin who are working to provide their clients with the best care possible.