A year ago, a co-worker named Lyndse and I had a conversation about her father who had been diagnosed with a rare kidney disease. “His kidneys are shutting down, she confided, and he might not make it to Christmas.”
“I had one of the most important conversations of my life this weekend,” she continued. “I finally, after all these years, received validation from my father. He told me that he was proud of me, and that I turned out well. I have been waiting all of my adult life to hear him say that and now after that conversation, I realize that we might have only a short time together.”
“At least you had the talk,” I replied. “Imagine those people who lose a parent to sudden death who might never hear those words.”
Validation from parents is a very important thing. Adult children long for it and even expect it, but often time they never receive the one gift from a father or mother that matters most; validation.
Why is it so difficult for parents to let their adult children know that they are proud of them, that they turned out well, that they have become good parents, great friends and people that matter.
As I looked at her sitting across from me in the office and crying, I spoke softly to her, “In reality, Lyndse, that validation might be the start of a dialogue that will continue.” In your father’s illness, you might be blessed with a better relationship, and share those things that you both love; art, music and your faith.
That conversation happened over a year ago. Lyndse’s dad responded well to the experimental treatments. As the year progressed, most of the tumors were gone or shrinking, and just this past week the doctors reported that the cancer was gone!
Last Christmas has passed and another is fast approaching. Lyndse and her dad have had many more conversations. Their relationship is growing slowly, and she feels good about the validation that she “turned out well.” Knowing her as I do, I can echo those feelings, Lyndse turned out good, indeed!
That day, I learned two things: parents need to affirm that they feel that their kids turned out well. They need to do it now and often. And secondly, that we should use the time we have together to strengthen our relationships with the people that mean the most.
As Lyndse rose to leave my office that day, over a year ago, I sat back in my chair, closed my eyes and there in my thoughts was my deceased mother, smiling that special smile of validation as she gave me a affirming wink.
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