Friday, April 2, 2010

The Ties That Bind . . .

One of my Facebook friends recently posited the following observation:

Why is it that the ones we love hurt us the most?

The interpretation, here, is not love between boyfriend and girlfriend (although, that does apply), but rather more like familial love. As I'm sure most of us can relate to, nothing hurts more than the betrayal from a close family member. If a friend or an acquaintance betrays our trust, we shrug our shoulders, ban them from our lives, and move on. But with family, the situation's not so simple. After all, we can't "un-friend" relatives. We still have to eat Thanksgiving dinner with these folks.

So dealing with betrayal from a brother, or aunt, or cousin usually produces a whole list of attendant complications along with it. Well maybe "betrayal" is too strong of a word here. More like disappointment, I guess.

Either way, you know what I mean. Or, at least, what my friend meant. The responses some of his other friends gave back were the typical knee-jerk phrases we're all conditioned to give. Maxims like: "it only hurts because you love them so much"; and: "because those you love know you best, and how to say or do the things that will pain you the most."

And, yeah, I guess this is all true. But honestly, as with most things in life, I think some of the cause of all this pain lies at the feet of the receiver. In other words, a lot of the disappointment that comes from the misguided actions of those we love the most is really only a reflection of the high standards we apply to our family members.

But family members are human beings, too. We all have our faults and weaknesses, right? Yet somehow we tend to hold our relatives to a higher plane of excellence than we would our own selves. Is this fair?

Of course the degree to which this hurt can manifest depends on the type of familial relationship; the closer the connection, obviously, the greater the potential pain. Naturally there exists a higher level of expectation between a mother and daughter than, say, between cousins twice removed.

I just saw on the news last night a story about a couple who left their 18 yr old son alone back home while they went on vacation to Paris. The couple obviously felt their son was well at the age to be treated like an adult, and gave him the trust and benefit befitting this maturity.

Bad decision.

This fool went and advertised to all his friends that his folks' home was available, and a HUGE party to end all parties thus ensued on the premises. Unfortunately for him, a group of punks crashed the party and completely and utterly DESTROYED the house. I'm talking big, gaping holes in the walls . . . rugs ruined from countless spilled drinks . . . furniture smashed to shambles . . . and even someone urinating into every drawer in the master bedroom. So much damage that the estimate to get it all repaired totals in the $45,000 range!!!

Looking at the mother talk about the ordeal to the reporter, she had this glazed look on her face that can best be described as true "shell shock." And I can only imagine how the father must feel. He probably wasn't on camera because he was too busy looking for something soft and squishy--like his son's fool head!--to smash into the concrete.

What do you do with betrayal this massive? I mean, how does the son ever repair his relationship with his parents? Moreover, were the parents at fault here? Obviously their level of expected maturity from their son far exceeded reality.

So what hurts more: the fact that their house is totaled, and should really be condemned by the city? Or the fact that this 18 yr old high school senior took a big fat shat on his parent's trust in him? As much as the hurt of the first is truly going to take a long time to go away, I'd likely wager that it is the last which leaves these parents crying at night.

But, you know what? I suppose the reverse is also true. That while those who we hold closest to our hearts have the potential to cause us the most heartache, so too are we more likely to forgive out of our deep familial love for them. In the case of this couple, had this been a friend of the family they put in charge of watching their house while away, that friend would now be looking at a lawsuit. Or even criminal charges. And forget about their friendship. That would be irreparably ruined for life.

But because this was their son, I'm willing to bet that all will eventually be forgiven. This idiot probably learned a valuable lesson here, and I doubt he'll ever do something so stupid ever again. And years down the line, when the parents are old and doddering and the son has his own family and bowl-headed children of his own . . . will they all sit around the table on Turkey day and laugh about this incident?

Maybe so. After all, they're family.


  1. I don't know about that. At 18 the "kid" should have known better. That story sure makes me appreciate my "kids" all the more. Never had those kinds of problems to deal with.

  2. There would've only been news cameras because my father would have killed me. Period. Well, not really killed but I would've been beat so bad I wished I was dead. And rightfully so. I'd be kickin' my kids ass! Those parents are at fault though. They obviously didn't know their own child. That's the problem with kids today: no sense of responsibility and experience with real consequences of their actions. I always had consequences to my actions growing up. I bet this kid didn't.

  3. This is all true. But I'm sure the parents are going to forgive this somewhere down the line. Just look at parents of muderers. They still love their kid, even while not condoning his actions.

    In this case, though, I keep thinking about the costs. I'm sure this kid is going to be starting college next year. How will this affect his parents' ability to pay for his education? Bet he never thought about that when he was having his "fun."


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