Friday, 3 September 2010

Who talks the most sense?

Sense is an interesting concept. Common sense is generally agreed to be a practical piece of advice that best addresses a specific situation. But, of course, the idea of sense is only circumstantial; historically, culturally and, to repeat myself, circumstantially based.

I, a former Catholic with something of a privileged background, will offer very different advice on a particular situation to a Muslim from a less fortunate background.

These thoughts arise out of an hour long conversation with my daughter, who, with young children, is going through a hiatus in her relationship with her partner. The fact it is a crisis identified and classified by academics helps her the none. Classically most divorces happen either when children are young or when they have fled the nest. For her the crisis is real. At this point it is not threatening, but left to fester will burst.

So I spent an hour on the phone giving her the benefit of my advice. We talked of everything, including sex, which is always a strange subject for a father to daughter. Why, I wonder? The taboo of incest hangs in the air. It is not, as her father, that such desire has ever dwelt but the worry that such desire might exist  always shades frankness. Thank goodness my daughter is oblivious of such thoughts. She has an openness and innocence, not to be confused with disingenuousness or lack of imagination, to engage in the subject objectively.

So I gave her the benefit of my wisdom as best I could.

But… there is always a but, I come away worrying of what she has taken from what I said; worrying about what I'd said; just worrying. It is an enormous responsibility to offer advice. What life has taught you is not necessarily a lesson of consequence to another. What you preach as a virtue can prove yet another weight rather than the comfort you hoped.

Anyway, and I say this in no way to prove my virtuousness , I have sent money for her and Danny to have a break. It is the best money I have ever spent and I feel blessed that I can afford to do so.


Stuart and Gabrielle said...

The question of whether to offer advice or hold one's counsel is cumbersome and unforgiving. It seems to be easier not to intervene but then--and I'm thinking rather of a relationship between friends here--what sort of friend can you really call yourself?
And if the advice is not wanted nor well received, the friendship itself can be threatened, in which case one might ask, "what sort of friend are they?"
Words like compassion, courage, honesty and integrity come to mind and also duty. With your literary background, David, you of all people know that you cannot control the parole once it's out there but putting it out there in the first place is the brave decision.
Knowing you as I do, I can vouch for you as a good confidante, honest and a good listener and very loving towards your daughters, so I have no doubt at all that Emily has benefited from your intervention. I sincerely hope they keep going as a challenged relationship survived often is the better for it.

DOT said...

Thank you for your kind words.

Further on advice, I remember receiving the same at various times from various individuals with varying outcomes.

The advice that bears the greatest responisility is that given to an individual who is going through some form of emotional turmoil. It is not the equivalent to recommending somone buy this or that car. The former are in a weakened, dependent state, if I can say that without sounding censorious, and so are most vulnerable can be further damaged by the wrong words.

Lane said...

Relationship advice is the trickiest of all. As you say, the recipient is already in a vulnerable and probably confused state and the odds are so high.
But you were right and brave to give it because people always want to hear their loved ones opinion. And advice doesn't always mean telling them what to do.

Also, a break will probably help them immensely.

Anonymous said...

Your advice was given with love and your daughter knows that. Sometimes the need to confide in somebody you can trust is huge and she knows she can trust you. I know you feel blessed that she is able to confide in you and she also feels blessed that she can trust you with her confidence. It says a lot about your relationship.

I'm sure they will benefit from time alone together.

DOT said...

Thank you Lane and Anon. I do feel fortunate that both my girls feel than can speak openly with me and I with them.

I sometimes wonder if it is the outcome of me being a restaurant dad when they were children, i.e. a divorcee, and so would chat with them over the meal on anything and everything. (They, of course, may have a different memory of those meals.)