Friday, April 1, 2011

Do I Have to be Responsible?

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.

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