“Being a parent is like being a golf pro. Parenting is the easiest skill to teach and the hardest thing to do”–Jim.
Over the years I have had hundreds perhaps thousands of conversations about this very topic. Parenting. As I have said in previous articles I make no apologies for focusing more on young men and how they are struggling in today’s world. I know a great deal about being male. I know very little about being female.
For some, parenting is or was a very challenging activity. We want to do it right because we may only get one try at it. Others may have several shots at it. Many were seen as successful and others struggled mightily. For me I always wondered what makes a successful parent and what doesn’t? How do you assess that? Is it by the ‘product’ that grows up in the world and what he/she does as an adult? And who judges that in terms of importance?
As a man in the world and as a parent to two beautiful human beings who I have judged or assessed as being outstanding citizens of the world I have come to the conclusion that I had something to do with how they turned out but I think that it was more about what they did with what I tried to teach them. I did not tell them who or what they should be. Each of our children will figure out for themselves how to apply the lessons taught and that is how it should be. So the following are the five things that I thought most important for my children to know about, to understand and to practice so that they could demonstrate how they, in turn, wanted to be treated by others-what they would accept and what they wouldn’t. I believe that it is the extent of feeling connected to others that is more likely to ensure the continuation of the human species than any thing else.
In no particular order of importance:
1. About Money: How to use it for the better good, not to hoard it or collect it beyond what is needed to have and enjoy a safe, secure, healthy, comfortable life style and to help others attain the same for their families. So many believe that they will be judged by how much they have instead of what they did with it once they had it. Is a guy worth a million a better person then a guy who is worth ten thousand? The disparity between us has caused resentment and anger and not because people don’t want to work for their dreams but rather because the opportunities to earn it are very limited and often by those who have it.
However, the point here is about being willing to earn it and not expecting it to come freely. It’s about doing the work it takes to earn what you need to support your dreams but not at the expense of others and their dreams for their families. To me it starts young. Giving an allowance for good behaviour or ‘helping out’ to our kids,for instance, is not a great idea to me. Our kids need to understand that their good behaviour should be given because they are a part of the family and not as a reward for pitching in. They get what they need when they need it and not what they want when they want it. This is the consequence of being part of a family. They don’t get rewarded for working around the house but rather they work around the house to enjoy a nice home and that is their reward. You want money–go earn it.
2. About Respect: Our kids need to have this message sent to them daily and parents need to support a system that supports this and not downplay its importance by supporting kids who don’t respect others. An example of that would be how seniors are treated or spoken to or how deplorable teachers are treated for example. We are to respect others. We respect their rights, their freedoms, their possessions, their homes, and their property. We have no right to endanger or threaten or anything else in order to get our own way because we are bored or know there are no consequences for our ignorant behaviour.
3. About boundaries: Just because you want it doesn’t mean that you are free to go and take it. When someone says ‘No’ then that is what that word means–friggin ‘No’. This one is pretty clear.
4. About Free Rides: This is similar to ‘go earn it’–there are no handouts–no free rides. There is no ‘entitlement’ that is granted to anyone just because. . . . You are entitled to be treated in the same fashion as you treat others. If you are treating people like they are second class citizens then you will be accorded the same treatment. You are not entitled to anything without working for it and those opportunities need to be available to everyone.
5. About Mother Earth: We need to help our kids not only understand but we need,also, need to demonstrate that treating Mother Earth with respect is the only option we have. To do otherwise will, eventually, bring us devastation and extermination. It will take a while but it will happen. Just look at what the science is telling us now. Listen to what the so-called world leaders are saying now. Our children deserve better than what we are handing them. Teach them to respect the very entity that is providing them with life.
I understand that we get all caught up in our own ‘truths’ but our guidance concerning our children’s values and focus has become suspect. We need to get back to helping them understand what it means to be a good citizen.
These are my five and I’m sure there are many others that are just as important. Please share them with me as I want to understand how others see this most important experience. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading this article. Please send it along to your friends, neighbours, family members and anyone else you think might be interested in commenting–all the best–Jim