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Dear Grandchild – Experience vs. Relationship

The other day, I overheard one parent say to another, “I want my child to have the grandparent experience.”   The word that caught my attention was “experience” wondering why they wouldn’t say “relationship” as in “I want my child to have a great relationship with their grandparent.” 

Experiences are certainly fun and exciting and worth creating to add to your storehouse of great memories.  Yet, experiences are temporary and transient.  You had a great experience at the movies, but after you hand over your ticket, you don’t think about the ticket taker, you didn’t stay in contact days and weeks later to ask if they got their car fixed, or how great their new glasses look.   You don’t give them a thought.  It was a short, surface, transactional Experience.

If one applied this same scenario to dating or marriage, “I want to have the dating Experience or the marriage Experience” it wouldn’t convey any of the depth of engagement that involves a healthy, vibrant relationship.  You might hear of a man asking a woman for the “girlfriend experience,” implying all the elements and demonstrations of how a girlfriend would behave in a relationship, but in this case it would be artificial, temporary, if only for a weekend and then forgotten.  On to some other Experience. 

A relationship entails that I care enough about you to think about you, to inquire about your life, to stay connected through time. It is the nature of man to connect on a deeper level to other human beings, as we know in our instinct that we cannot survive alone.  When you want to ask someone to marry you, good luck telling that person “I hope I have a marriage experience!”  They will look at you with skepticism and assume you only want what, for you, would be transitory, temporary and its sole purpose is the excitement of the moment, without thought or care thereafter until the next “experience.”  One would be viewed as selfish and self-centered if all life’s engagements were only for their own purpose in the experience.

Whether a relative, a friend or spouse, a relationship is based on the time and contact needed to bring happiness and fulfillment to someone else.  Without this connection, we are isolated and alone, any experiences then feel hollow and cold.

A relationship is warm and draws contentment in the memory of it.  A real relationship is not found in a name or birth certificate or passing experience.  It’s found in the sacrifice of time, setting aside what my personal desire may be in order to spend all the time I can talking, sharing, being open, transparent, and trustworthy with another human where they know they can count on me, they trust what I say is true to my intent.  These actions and interactions are the only path to creating a genuine, fulfilling relationship, nothing an experience could ever hope for.

When you think about the people who will come and go from your life, it’ll be the relationships that count, not the experiences.  It’ll be the relationships that last, not the fading experience.  The investment you put into a real relationship will compound over time, accumulating trust, building love and the bond will be strong.  

Experiences are consumed – enjoy!

Relationships are built.  They are built on compassion, care, and the time we spend for and with others outside ourselves.

Be a builder of relationships and the experiences will take care of themselves.    

I love you Grandchild.  And because of our relationship, you are never alone.

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