Washington, DC

Opinion: I Grew Up in Washington, D.C.

Colleen Sheehy Orme

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I went to high school with a dozen friends whose parents served in the Senate or Congress. Please don't mistake this for a political article. I write about relationships, not politics. This is about where I grew up.

I remember the respect these families had for one another. They were two halves of one whole. Regardless of what side of the aisle they sat on. There was a decorum. A reverence for the established process.

A lot has changed.

Some think it's motivated by politics.

I believe it's driven by something simpler yet equally complex. The fundamental core of resolving relationship conflict is respect. Respect is allowing, acknowledging, and accepting the differences of others. It's not a quest to change another individual.

It's not conflict, it's conversation.

It's the type of difference that may result in an argument, not chaos.

Unfortunately, once lost, respect is difficult to restore. When I was married my children were overly respectful. When my husband and I began to have problems I continued to insist upon it. When I initiated a divorce it wasn't our foundation that crumbled. It was the respect. One spouse encouraged the children to be disrespectful.

In a sad attempt to establish sides.

But there aren't sides to parenting. Children need both their mother and their father. They are two halves of one whole. They are different but necessary. They both bring something the other cannot. Regardless of gender or title. They have a passion and love for their kids like no other.

I watched the typical parental reverence my children had fade.

The calm conflict resolution turned to chaos. Without respect, the home became Lord of the Flies. I urged my spouse to re-establish and reinforce our former boundaries. But he had become preoccupied with needing our children on his side of the aisle. Rather than acknowledging our differences while they might be unfortunate, didn't require teams.

They required resolution.

Because love for our children and family, though now divided should rise above all.

Divorce didn't cause the traumatic events. It was painful and sad. But it didn't have to become chaotic and fueled by anger. My husband and I were the leaders of our family. It was up to us to set the proper example.

Nothing positive happens by encouraging a lack of respect.

Nothing good comes from the need to make yourself feel better by making another feel bad.

Confident leaders acknowledge differences don't need to inspire hatred. They need to inspire resolution. They need to provoke thought. To motivate discussion and change. To remind us life doesn't strictly revolve around our particular worldview.

It's why we've assembled individuals from all over our country to gather in Washington, D.C. To do the hard work of hashing out the intricacies of each region while promoting the overall good of our American family.

To keep us united despite our differences. Divorce may seem like a simplistic reference. It may seem an inappropriate comparison to some. But the most basic human threads run through the foundation of all relationships.

Conflict doesn't destroy.

It's cause for consideration and negotiation.

But dismissal in the form of disrespectfulness does destroy. It does divide. It replaces peace with perpetual dissension. It forces people to take sides. It creates emotional war. It's the ego at work. An immature ego that hasn't matured fully enough to take matters off the playground.

I was fortunate to witness the example of the families I grew up with.

Even more fortunate to know several friends who served in Congress. Individuals with a bigger sense of the world, a commitment to the process, and respect for those who served with them.

I write about relationships, not politics. There is nothing political about my words.

They speak to the foundation of relationships.

They are two halves of one whole. They are different but necessary. They both bring something the other cannot. Regardless of gender or title. They have a passion and love like no other. And nothing can be more beautiful.

Unless they lack respect.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration. She has spent more than a decade in research and counseling on the topics of divorce, relationships, and Narcissistic personality disorder.

Reston, VA
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