Monday, June 23, 2008

Growing Up Dad

Lou Schuler wrote an interesting article about being a Dad and asked what our standards are for raising a child in the 21st century. He noted his friend Kevin Mitchell determined the first imperative of parents is to be a better parent than one's own parents. Lou writes:
Since every kid believes his parents sucked at child rearing, it's really not a particularly high hurdle. My parents sucked in both cruel and comical ways, but from what I know about their upbringing, they improved upon their own parents by a wide margin. And at the same time they did me a favor by giving me so much room to improve on their standard. I, in turn, am giving my kids ample opportunity to do even better.

That's pretty much my experience as well. That being said, my standards for being a better are these.

Be a Role Model
Mahatma Gandhi once said we are to "be the change we wish to see in the world." That means modeling. We focus on teachable moments when our kid throws up a softball question that we can knock out of the park. Kids learn so much more from what they see us do and overhear us say. The truest role modeling is done in those quiet little moments when you think she is not watching or listening. It's made me more patient with drivers (my motto is now "We all get there eventually" which allows me grace for others, including the dude going 60 in the left lane), cashiers and other people who make my life "difficult". If I can manage to model even a third of love, joy, peace, longsuffering (aka patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control, I'll count myself un unmitigated success.

The one thing I hated about growing up in my house was that I never felt listened to. To be fair, my mother worked full time running her own cleaning business and my father had, at any given time, between 2 and 4 jobs. Listening to me carp about my day was probably not high on their list of priorities. What I have found with Little Fish is just how important listening is, not just to what is being said, but sometimes to what she is not saying. I dread the day she comes home and ISN'T talking about how stupid the boys are in her class. It's amazing how much she can learn, and how much I learn, when I just ask simple questions like "Really?" and "Why" or those even rarer occasions when I simply shut up altogether.

Little Fish is an amazing person. She stutters, but acts in plays, sings, and is an advocate for herself. Why? I think it's because Mrs. Fish and I have encouraged her from the beginning. I try to find things that were specifically good about something she did in any endeavor. She tells me stories about what's going on in school with a close friend and I say to her, "That was very kind of you. You know what? If I were a kid, I'd want to be your friend."

So, what are your standards?

1 comment:

Mary said...

great entry fish! i think i could work harder on that whole "example" thing, especially the listening part.