Positivity is a state of mind!  Is it optimism that drives positive thought or does positive thought drive optimism?  This was the conversation I was having with Zach this past weekend as we dissected and discussed the merits of coping with anxiety.

Whether we like it or not we all suffer from anxiety in some for or another, many of us have the resiliency to bounce back when faced with feeling down and depressed, others need coping mechanisms in order to pull themselves back from the abyss.

I’ve watched those close to me and that I love struggle day in and day out with these challenges.  The thing for me personally is the feeling of complete and utter helplessness in not being able to do anything tangible to alleviate the situation for them.

Over the years I’ve also come to realize that we each have our own personal burdens to carry, no matter who we are there is always something that challenges us on a level that we rarely show or share to those around us.  Whether its out of the fear of rejection or shame, we as human beings tend to only show the world what we want people to see – our very best side or something that continues the myth of living the perfect life.

Being able to share this burden with someone close without the fear of being judged or rejected is a true sign of a strong relationship, sadly few of us have the courage or the people around us to open up and lay ourselves bare…

I’ve also realized that as a parent it does not preclude you from also being open and honest with your kids, although sensing the right time and place to share this with them is critical. I’m exceptionally fortunate in that Zach and I have spent a lot of time talking about our feelings, fears, anxieties.  Road trips are the best!  🙂

This trust has been earned by each of us learning that we aren’t going to judge, or preach (yeah, that’s me!), but listen and provide our own personal perspective without bias.

I feel blessed that Zach and I have this type of relationship where can be openly honest and candid, but its a two way street for us both.

How did we get here you ask?  Well, it was a conscious decision not to follow in the footsteps of my parents and actually use my coaching and mentoring skills vs. traditional parenting skills to become the parent I’d always wanted to be – not just for me but for Zach and Sami’s sake.

It changed the game completely!

I was doing more listening and asking more questions – seeking to understand without adding any bias or judgment.  Admittedly there were times when I was put to the test by the topic of conversation, but doggedly stuck to my approach of not commenting without first fully understanding.

What I learned along the way was that Zach was also learning a lot about me, because for everything he openly shared with me, I also began sharing the unedited version of my life, yep, warts and all.  It gave him an opportunity to ask me questions that I needed to reflect on as well.

He needed to see I was wasn’t perfect…far from it.  In fact, showing him that I was human and that we all make mistakes and take missteps in life is completely normal.  As I’ve reiterated to him its not so much about the missteps in life, but about how you react, reflect and learn from these situations that become your best teachers and mould you into the person you become.

I truly believe that all of these things collectively have helped me have a incredibly strong relationship with him.  However, its not all beer and roses, there have been some tough conversations along the way as I try to keep them grounded in the real world.

Sami and I have a more traditional parent – teenager relationship in that I I’m primarily her Uber driver and chef. I don’t mean to be flippant, far from it, but as you know in the eyes of a teenage daughter a father is one of the least important people on the face of the planet. 🙂

And yes, I do know this is completely normal.

I must admit we do spend a lot of time driving to and fro to soccer practice, games and her friends places so we do talk, which is great, perhaps just not to the depth that Zach and I do. All I know is that deep in my heart I have to be patient, supportive, loving and honest no matter what.

Demonstrating through my actions that I love them is the most important thing I can do.  Actions always speak louder than words, a great example this week is that I had planned to take them out for my birthday to a nice restaurant, but Sami found out that the schools spring concert was the same night so I promptly cancelled the restaurant reservation so I could go watch her play the clarinet in the school band.  It was awesome!  Afterwards I took them both our for a late night bite to celebrate.

This consistency of action and words provides them with a solid and stable base from which to grow, mature and live.  I’m hoping that this foundation will also serve as a great starting point for when they have a family of their own and become parents.

I realize that because of circumstance beyond their control they’ve had to grow up a little faster than their peers, but what i also see is a level of maturity, groundedness and empathy beyond their years – which leads me to where we are today.

All three of us have played a part in creating this environment and I feel very fortunate and blessed to have these two incredible young adults to call my own.

So lucky!