My philosophy of parenting seems to be changing daily these days. Now that two of my boys are adults and one is not to far from that milestone I am starting to figure a few things out. I have been extremely fortunate over the years to watch some real parenting pros in action. That was particularly true when the boys were small. I watched parents of teenagers navigate that time in life in a way that I desired to imitate. But negative parenting examples can also be helpful. And I have seen more than a few of those lately.
After observing people that are struggling in the parenting role, I have reached an important conclusion. It is not profound. It is does not represent anything new. But it is significant. Here it is: One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is responsible parental behavior. I would take that thought one step further. One of the most important things we can do for our children is to simply act like responsible adults.
I am not talking about rocket science. Doing our best to work hard and provide for our families is a starting point. I fully realize that alone can be a daunting task at times. Establishing credibility in the eyes of our children by following through on my commitments would run a close second. Somewhere at the top of the list should be a commitment to decent and morally upright conduct.
I am convinced that such basics can be a determining factor in the emotional health and overall future of our children. I realize that I am not saying anything new here, but I think as a young parent I did not realize just how significant such matters really are. I was consumed in trying to “do” the right things with my children. I don’t regret those initiatives. They were good efforts. But I think if I was advising a young parent, my thoughts would go in a different direction.
Here is what I would say to young fathers in particular: (I have never been a mother, so I won't take a stab at that list.)
• Treat the mother of your children with obvious respect. (verbally and by your actions)
• Be as stable as you can be in terms of your occupation. (Work hard and be honest, etc.)
• Model the important virtues of honesty, fairness, kindness, and compassion.
• Admit to your kids when you are wrong.
Families are going to experience all kinds of stressors. But children living in a secure home led by responsible parents are more likely to be resilient. I know that I need to do some important self-evaluation in this area.