My son, 12, and my daughter, 14, were over at my house for a sleepover on Mother’s Day eve. Their mother and I split some 10 years beforehand. There was a lot of tension around the holiday and a lot of old feelings were in the air, given the holiday.
Those feelings got pretty heated and my son had an angry argument with my daughter. He was using bad language and yelling. When I told him to stop, he ran to his room and closed his door.
I could hear him sobbing on the floor, right on the other side of the door. I gently asked him if I could come in and talk to him and he said, “No.” I repeatedly told him that it was OK for him to be upset and that I was right there for him. He continued to cry but wouldn’t let me into his room. He let our dog in, though. The door opened, in our miniature dachshund ran, and then it shut again. I slipped a note under his door telling him that I loved him, but he still wouldn’t let me into his room.
As several minutes passed, I realized that I should do whatever I could to connect with him on the other side of the door. So I lay down on the floor outside his room, just as he was lying on the floor inside his room, and told him again that I was there for him. When he heard my voice on the same physical level as his, he really started to cry heavily. After a few more minutes, he said “I’ve ruined Mother’s Day!” I assured him he’d done no such thing. After about another 15 minutes or so, he came out of his room and told me he loved me. He was much more flexible and calm the rest of the day.
I don’t think he would have gotten nearly as much out of that experience as he could have if I didn’t think to connect with him as best as I could. That small gesture of getting down on the same level as him and being with him as well as I could despite that door in between us made a huge difference.
— A father in California