Parenting Advice

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Wow.  Pretty smug, huh?  I find myself at home, after a long and interesting weekend, with a head full of thoughts.  Who am I to offer parenting advice?  Nobody, really.  I just had some thoughts about the way I’ve chosen to raise my own kids and thought maybe I’d write them down.  Follow them?  Only if you want to.  This is just one man’s rant.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  – Not Ghandi

Wildly mis-credited to Ghandi, this is a great quote.  I tweak it a little when I say, “Be the person you wish your children to become.”  This is way easier spoken than lived.  While I would never utter a curse word in front of my children, I do utter them on occasion when they’re not around.  Hypocritical?  Maybe.  This is just one item in a long list of reasons of why I’m not perfect.  I would like my children to one day be perfect adults.  Will that happen?  Of course not, I’m not stupid.  But if I aim for A+ and only get A-, I can live with that.  If I only aim for B, what will I get? 
 
I try very hard to let my children see me be the adult I wish they’d become.  I swallow my fear of spiders and get excited when they bring them into the house in jars.  I don’t want my kids to have the same irrational fears I do.  I show respect to the elderly, get involved in activism, try to be a force of happiness, not sadness. 

“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting their own battles.”  -Lots of people

Dare you to find two people who can agree on who originally said this, or at least something like it.  I thought I’d do a quick google search to find an author, and found four within seconds.  Anyway, it’s good advice.  Why is that guy in the supermarket rude?  We may never know.  Maybe his wife has cancer.  Maybe he’s sick.  Maybe his insurance doesn’t cover his prescription as well as it used to.  Is this reason to be rude back?  Nope.  This guy needs a smile and a kind word more than most.  Maybe he’s just a jerk.  Still needs a smile and a kind word, if you ask me.  Jesus said, and I’m paraphrasing, “anybody can be nice to nice people, be nice to the jerks – that’s the trick.”  Bottom line is, you never know what another person is going through, so you shouldn’t assume their attitude has anything to do with you.  Let some things roll of your back.  

“Why do you want to blow stuff up?  Do you want to bring your kid by an empty lot someday and say, ‘there used to be something there, but I destroyed it’?”  – Dennis Whitehouse, my Dad.

One day when I was a kid, riding around with Dad, I explained why I wanted to be a demolitions expert.  What 13 year old boy doesn’t want to blow stuff up?  Dad is in construction.  There are things all over this state that he’s had a hand in building.  He impressed upon me that day that destruction is easy, but creation is more important.  That Dad is a pretty smart guy.  In our family, we try to be part of positive things; things that edify, not indemnify.  Be part of the solution, not just a critic on the sidelines.  

“You can’t teach a crab to walk straight”  -Aristophanes

This is a motto I try to live by.  Sometimes it saves a lot of personal angst and frustration to realize that people are who they are, and cannot/will not change to meet your needs.  This rings true with Jake and his autism.  I COULD spend my life frustrated with who Jake isn’t, but it’s so much more rewarding to enjoy and cherish who Jake is.  

When I began this post, I had no idea where it would lead, but I hoped that a destination would present itself as I went along.  Sadly, this isn’t the case.  I’m not sure how to wrap up.  I’m sorry if it all sounds a little sanctimonious.  I in no way wish to come across as a master of parenting.  I’ve only been at it eleven years.  I guess I’ll leave you with a few points:

  • let kids make mistakes, and take responsibility for those mistakes/choices
  • let kids be kids.  there’s such a short time in life reserved for carefree innocence
  • there’s a time to be clean, and a time to get dirty
  • Sunday school is important
  • use your manners
  • the most important thing a man can do for his kids is to show them he loves their mother

I guess that’s all for now.  Go hug your kids.  

 

 

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