If It’s Broke, Try to Fix It 721.3

Former President Jimmy Carter was 70 years old when he wrote this poem about his father:

This is a pain I mostly hide,

But ties of blood or seed endure.

And even now I feel inside

The hunger for his outstretched hand.

A man’s embrace to take me in,

The need for just a word of praise.

Isn’t it extraordinary that even after a life of monumental achievements, President Carter still feels pain when he thinks of his father, who either could not feel or would not express love and approval? Unfortunately, there are many people in his shoes, left with bitter feelings and enduring wounds inflicted by their parents.

Yet not all bad parents are bad people. Caring parents can unintentionally injure children through excessive harshness or permissiveness, or through well-intended criticism and advice that comes out as relentless disapproval or oppressive negativity. Kids not only need to know they’re loved, they need to feel worthy of our love. They need to be valued not simply because they’re ours, but because of who they are.

It’s never too late to try to fix whatever’s broken:

  • Express caring, pride, and approval more lavishly and often.
  • Be less critical, more helpful, less controlling.
  • Set aside your need to be right.
  • Be less self-righteous and more respectful toward those you love.
  • Be sincerely accountable and genuinely apologize, even if it’s not enough.
  • It’s not always possible to fix things that are broken, but it’s worth a try.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 2

  1. As a police officer, we have to often guard against “rescue mentality”. When a family member wants to talk about a problem, our first instinct is to “fix it” when there are many times an understanding ear is all that is needed/wanted.

  2. Unfortunately, many people think they will be perceived as weak if they apologize or express appreciation. How wrong they are! Only strong people can honestly look at themselves, recognize their flaws and mistakes, and apologize for them. Great people recognize that there success–in matters small or large–has been facilitated by those areound them. As the saying goes: Let no day end before you have spoken words of gratitude, encouragement, and friendship.”

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