Nothing in life will invite us to more regret than parenting. There are so many times, that no matter how it plays out, you and I will be tempted to think about the 3 million other ways we could have gone. But what happens when you know you really made a mistake? I address that situation in this video.
This is part of a continual series called, "Things I hope my kids learn." I currently have 150 different things written down that I hope they write. You can find the whole series of posts here.
#31. Whenever Possible Do Good.
So often little opportunities are missed. I was thinking today about the fact that sometimes life gets really complicated, really fast.
No matter how hard we try, it can get complicated. One thing that I hope my children learn and apply is to do good.
This can be something simple.
Sometimes, it will be complex. In fact, sometimes the good they see that needs to be done, they may not be able to do but I hope and pray that they will not allow those things to keep them from doing the things that they can do.
Whenever possible, do good. I hope that this won't need much explanation for my children.
I consistently run into people who dislike their life
Usually with a passion.
And yet, they make zero changes.
They do the same things over and over again.
As if their life is written out for them and no matter what they attempt, they are stuck living a life they hate.
This is patently false.
We, you and I can always change our life. The problem is that change is often hard
Change is often very painful. Even desired change.
Most people resist that pain choosing rather to wallow in the pain that they are familiar with over the potential pain that they do not know. This resistance to pain of any kind becomes muscle memory and it simply becomes easier to avoid it.
But this resistance to pain comes at a new price. The person becomes stuck in their life that they hate. But stuck is the wrong word because it implies some sort of outside force keeping them from achieving their desired outcome. Most of the time, the outside force is us.
There are three simple questions everyone must ask of themselves if they want to experience change.
What do I want? This is the most basic question. What do I really want? Often we want competing things. That is to say, we often want things that cancel each other out. We want to be heroic but face zero danger. We want to spend money indiscriminately and grow our savings account. This is why we need to make priorities.
What am I willing to pay? We often want things without having to pay for them. We want to own a successful business without putting in the hours required to be successful. We want to lose weight without sacrificing foods that we like but that are bad for us. We want to get better sleep but don't want to pay the cost of going to bed earlier. So often, people get stuck because they decide the price of change is too steep without adequately measuring the cost of staying the same.
What am I willing to risk? So often people want to achieve something without risk. This is impossible. The person who wants to expand her circle of friends will have to risk rejection. The man who wants to experience true love will be forced the risk the loss of that love. The person who wants to experience change, will have to risk the possibility of set backs and failures.
And so I say to my children, and you...indeed to myself, if we don't like the situation we are currently in, we are free to change it. Always.
This is the first in an ongoing series entitled, Things I hope my kids learn. This is number 66. The numbers have little significance but they do provide me a decent way to track each one.
One of the most common things I see in life is people enslaved by their mistakes.
The young father with a criminal record, fears to ever take a chance because of a mistake when he was 18. The young mother who fears loving again because he baby daddy left her.
The middle aged person who over reached and now lives in fear of trying again.
The stories go on, wandering a long and meandering path.
Too often I see people who simply can't past their own mistakes. There's a guy at the gym where I work out who told me that he has been in a violent and bad relationship for 25 years because he cheated on his wife with the woman he was in relationship with now.
That's the definition of being enslaved.
I pray my children learn that their mistakes do not have to define them.
But what about you? What can you and I (and for that matter our children) do with the mistakes that have happened?
Admit and own the mistake. One of the biggest things that I see people do that actually gets them trapped is that they refuse to admit that they made a mistake. Worse, they often try to deflect ownership for their mistake to someone else.
Evaluate for what you can do differently. Simply because you made a mistake, that doesn't mean you have to repeat it.
Gather resources. Sometimes this will require you to look for others to help. Sometimes, you'll need to wait and be patient while you gather your resources or the next semester or job opening comes along. People are often tempted to skimp on this step. Don't be one of them.
Try again. I'm not sure step 4 needs explained.
Repeat. Often, overcoming mistakes needs multiple attempts. You have to be willing to go back into the fray. Go back again and again.
Mistakes can rob us of hope. Instead of looking at them as something bad, I'd love for my kids to come to the place where they celebrate failure as a means to gain knowledge and wisdom. Of course, that means that I too would have to come to a place used to failure and mistakes.
The other day I was reading a pretty good article. It was about parents being better parents. Good stuff. This is a topic that interests me. Partly, because I’m a parent and partly because I need to know about it to be good at my job. He talked about parents doing parenting things. It was really pretty good for about 2/3’s of the way.
Then it all fell apart. And the comments underneath it!
What went wrong? He blamed technology for the parenting problems we’re seeing today. It was too much screen time. Blame the iPad! Blame the gadget! Blame the fact that we have milk in the fridge and water in faucet! Wait? What?
Well, I mean if we’re going to blame things externally of us, why not the milk in the fridge or the water in the faucet? Technology makes a nice new target...because it's new. I had someone tell me that there problem with it was the fact that people "don't talk to each other anymore." I asked him to find some pictures from the earlier generations of people gathering. Turns out they were reading newspapers. They weren't all that more engaged.
Technology isn't the reason our kids are disrespectful or disobedient today. They are whatever they are because we have allowed them to be that way. We have abdicated our responsibility as parents to schools, TV and devices. And we blame technology.
Let's end the war on technology.
Let's take control of our own lives and realize that technology is just a tool. A tool is neither good nor bad, it is simply used. Let's not use it as a tool to jettison our own responsibility to parent. Let's accept that our children are sentient beings with their own level of free will. Let's stop blaming and start owning our personal responsibility.
We will never see true growth if we blame something outside of us for our problems, rather we need to examine our own motives and heart and how we use the tools that we have.
Researchers have found that "all scientific research now shows that from a time a baby is born, a baby's brain is biologically already formed to connect in relationships."
In large measure, what is causing this crisis of American childhood is a lack of connectedness. We mean two kinds of connectedness—close connections to other people, and deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning.
Much of this report is a presentation of scientific evidence—largely from the field of neuro-science, which concerns our basic biology and how our brains develop—showing that the human child is hardwired to connect. We are hardwired for other people and for moral meaning and openness to the transcendent. Meeting these basic needs for connection is essential to health and to human flourishing
For the first time, a diverse group of scientists and other experts on children's health is publicly recommending that our society pay considerably more attention to young people's moral, spiritual and religious needs."
This post come from my friend Ty Woznek. You can find him online here. His thoughts are sure to start some conversations today. A picture of his boys can be found at the end of this post.
I agree we need to reprogram how we raise boys.
1) End crazy zero tolerance policies. Suspending a boy for punching a bully is nuts. May not be the correct course of action, but it's not suspension worthy.
2) Bring back winners & losers. If a boy hates losing, he'll work harder on winning.
3) Let boys play with guns. Let them take risks. Let them achieve glory. Let em prank. Will they go to far? Yes. But robbing boys of failure also robs them of success. Let them take the risk at work, not just playing sports.
4) Train them to be gentlemen and not label such as misogyny. It's not, it's being classy, romantic, and civil. And yes, part of that means we can say: "Man up!" and not be accused of meaning "UFC fighting, beer guzzling, BBQ dripping from mouth barbarian."
5) STOP PORTRAYING DADS AS DUMB OR DEADBEATS. We have a dad problem more than anything.
I have random memories from first days of school. I suppose that’s true for many people. One positive one is cutting grass the night before. Back then, ABC or some such station had Monday Night Baseball and I wanted to watch the Dodgers play with my mom. She loved Tommy Lasorda, him being Italian sealed that deal. I also remember the night before sixth grade. I was going to a new school. I wasn’t sure what to think. It was pretty much a train wreck. I hated that year. Probably at least some of that angst was just normal middle school stuff. But today my oldest daughter started sixth grade. I almost always get a little down when we start the back to school ramp up. I like having my kids home. I like the freedom they (and I have) to visit the office and stay up late swimming. I know education is a necessity (the grammatical errors that are sure to run through this post aside), but there is a lot of school systems that I don’t truly understand.
I’m also a pretty optimistic person. I hardly ever get too down, nor do I get grumpy for an entire day too often.
But yesterday I was grumpy.
And today as I drove away from the school where I had just dropped my daughter off for her first day, I fought back tears. I woke up at 5:15 and didn’t fall back asleep this morning.
This caused me to what my family jokingly refers to as “therapize” myself. That is to say, I started to deconstruct my feelings so I could better understand them and process them.
I think there are a couple of things going on. For whatever reason, the loss of my mom has been really poignant this week.
But of course, there is more. I think my daughter starting sixth grade has caused me to relive some of that and worry for her. I mean, isn’t that the heart of parenting? We don’t want our kids to suffer as we did. We don’t want our kids to face the same bullies we faced. We don’t want them to feel the searing hot pain of being misunderstood or outright rejected. My daughter is so excited for middle school. She had a year, where a bully targeted her because my daughter had success at a project that the bully did not experience. My daughter is a lot like me. She enjoys discussions about deep and random things. I haven’t told her about my own troubles because the time isn’t right yet. Some day I will tell her all of it.
For now, I will hold my breath and hope. I will hope that her sixth grade year is better than mine was all those years ago. If it is not, we’ll deal with that as a family. I will hope that her infectious desire to learn and process things will blossom through this year. I will hope that I lead her well by walking beside her and her sisters as they traverse this next chapter of life. For some reason, the younger grades don’t seem to get to me as much.
I will also grieve.
I love being a dad. Seriously, besides getting married, it is absolutely the best thing I have ever done. And my kids are growing up. They are moving through the stages and its wonderful. Wonderful change. Years ago someone told me that all change is loss. I believed him then and I believe him now. We tend to think that grief is inherently bad. I disagree with that sentiment. Grief simply exists. It's a reminder that we are all growing and dying. It is a reminder that life is too short and time is too fast. It is a reminder of all that we've loved and all that we've lost.
So to you, my friend, I say wherever you are right now on the kids spectrum. May you find contentment and peace. May you find the courage to process your own stuff that having (or not having) kids brings up in you. May you find the next step while enjoying the current one.
The sensible alternative to overparenting is not less parenting but better parenting. The alternative to permissiveness is not to be more controlling but more responsive. And the alternative to narcissism is not conformity but reflective rebelliousness. In short, if we want to raise psychologically healthy and spirited children, we’ll need to start by questioning the media-stoked fears of spoiling them. (60)
Kohn, Alfie (2014-03-25). The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting (p. 8). Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition.
~Looking forward to reading this book. I imagine I'm going to love parts of it and hate other parts of it.