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An Uneasy Truce
by Leslie A. Turvey

    It was an uneasy truce.

    My friend’s daughter had taken up with a rather undesirable partner, causing a rift in the mother-daughter relationship.

    After a time of estrangement, the daughter ventured a visit home. Generally on such first visits the atmosphere is tense. Words are guarded. Tempers often flare. However, in the end, a lot of hostilities are aired, and hopefully things can settle down.

    After the visit my friend told me, “I will accept my daughter, but I will never accept her partner.” She admitted the truce was not an easy one.

    Rare, indeed, is the parent who never faces a painful situation with a son or daughter in which a truce has to be offered. It would be wonderful if all children were so obedient and respectful of their parents that such occasions never arose. It may be like that in la-la land, but not in the real world.

    Former United States President Lyndon Baines Johnson said, “No experience is a bad one unless we fail to learn from it.” And truces, no matter how uneasy, can be a learning experience for those on both sides.

    To begin with, a truce is a two-sided matter. It’s just a stand-off if one party refuses to agree with the other.

Never is a long, long time.
    A truce provides an opportunity for both sides to take a breather and consider the terms of the other. No doubt my friend and her daughter will think deeply about the terms of their truce.

    As it is, however, the truce is rather one-sided. “I will accept my daughter, but I will never accept her partner.”

    “Never!” is an awfully strong word.

    “Never!” is a grave: six feet deep with no way out.

    “Never!” as my aunt used to say, “is a long, long time.”

    I asked my friend to consider an alternative. “Not yet” has many times kept me out of trouble with my employers, my friends, and my wife.

    “Not yet” is an open-ended situation which, in my friend’s relationship with her daughter says, “I can’t accept your partner right now, but give me time and let’s see what changes.” No definite commitment, but hope for the future.

    To say I accept you but not your partner, will generally be turned into the argument, “If you won’t accept him, then you don’t accept me either.” And the grave gets deeper.

    So, when you’re faced with a “No” decision, try “Not yet.” It says, “Someday the two of us may see eye-to-eye.”



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Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Article copyright © 1998, Leslie A. Turvey. Used by permission.
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