Someone asked me yesterday if I see my dad much anymore. “No.” as I shook my head. “Oh you’ve just given up” she responded.

My tendency of not thinking quickly on my feet and saying how I really feel led me to say “yeah I guess so…” But no, I don’t believe with any ounce of my being that I’ve “given up” and to be honest that has actually never even crossed my mind.

Funny how perspectives can be so different between outsiders looking in. I truly believe that we teach people how to treat us and we all deserve respect from those around us, especially family.

She goes on to say “I have a friend who has lost both of her parents, isn’t that sad?” As I scrambled around in my head to think of something to say to reflect how I felt, “yeah” was all I could mutter…

It’s funny how people can subtly try and convince us to get us to think the way they do when our choices regarding someone else is our lives often have zero affect on them whatsoever.

This is not a justification of why I haven’t seen my dad in over two years, but more about a universal truth that I live my life by that I hope to inspire others to embody as well.

I believe that we shouldn’t keep someone in our lives “just because they’re family.” Blood, to me, just means we’re related to each other, that we have similar biology. But true “family” is shaped more by behavior than blood.

We all have a responsibility to ourselves and others to teach people how to treat us, and if that falls on deaf ears and we have to constantly tell someone the exact thing about how we feel and they don’t change it, we have to understand that they don’t respect us and then make hard choices on what we want to do with that information.

We all have the freedom and right to choose how we want to respond to that dynamic in our relationships. To me, those that disrespect me continually after I’ve expressed how I’d prefer to be treated, don’t deserve to be in my life.

That may be harsh thinking to some people, but it is, in fact, okay for me to want my own happiness and care about my own emotional well-being the most. It’s okay for you to want that too. We’re not obligated to accept disrespect in our life from anyone, “family” or not.

What we are obligated to do however is tell those people close to us when they’ve hurt us and tell them how we’d prefer to be treated.

We can’t force a person to show us respect, but we CAN refuse to be disrespected. Respect is not freely given, it is earned over time with respectful behavior. That is what truly makes family to me.

I’d like to extend sincere gratitude to all the respectful men out there that love being dads and love their children with vulnerability, humility, and strength. Please don’t stop what you’re doing for your children, they need you more than you know. Happy Father’s Day.


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