Father and Son
New parents always think they’ll do a better job than their parents had. Not that most think they did a crummy job to begin with, just that we’ll take the lessons learned and thrive in the face of the same situations that once befuddled them.
- We’ll spoil our kids. We’ll give them all the stuff they want for Christmas, especially if they ask for it for 10 years in a row.
- We won’t push them into sports or activities, but instead let them make up their own mind.
- We’ll be their friend instead their adversary and parent them by relating to their needs and emotions.
- We’ll always make time for them and never let work get in the way.
Then, slowly, these ideals begin to shatter and collapse around you as the reality of having a child truly sets in.
- You buy them everything and they still want more.
- The stuff they want for Christmas is expensive, dangerous and just plain ridiculous to you.
- You push them into sports and activities to not only get them socializing but to get a little quiet time for yourself.
- You find out you can’t be their friend, at least not yet. Kids need structure, and just like an old western, someone has to be the bad guy.
- You try to make as much time for them as you can, but in the end work wins most of the time. Somehow you forgot that buying them all this stuff and enrolling them in sports and activities costs money.
You feel like you failed but in reality, you’ve likely made a small incremental increase over your parents.
My dad’s father rarely spoke to him. When he did it certainly wasn’t praise and words of encouragement. I think that weighed on my him and so he made a concerted effort to do better. In the end, that’s being a parent. Doing your best to do just a little bit better than the generations that came before you.
You won’t have all of the answers but believe it or not, your parents may have some wisdom to share. You will falter. You will do or say the wrong thing, but most importantly, you’ll learn along the way.
In the end, if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to watch your kids make the same mistakes raising their children and relish every minute of it.