Adventures Of Fatherhood

It’s the random conversations with kids that can oftentimes surprise and therefore are the most enjoyable.

Pam had one chat of note with Beckett the other day on the way to school that she was anxious to share with me. It went something like this.

Beckett: Did you know that yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday?

Pam: Yes, do you know who he was?

Beckett: Yes, he wanted everyone to be even.

Pam: You mean equal, right?

Beckett: Yes, equal and fair. I mean, duh, shouldn’t everyone be equal and treated the same?

Pam: Yes, they should but some people are not nice …

Beckett: [Cutting her off] I know, some mean people shot him and they were not nice. God and Jesus are really mad at them.

Pam: Yes I believe you are right, honey.

Rather than continue on, she left it at that because no further discussion was needed. That’s a great talk.

Although I never thought I would head down this path, a guilty pleasure of mine is reading parenting articles.

On average, I probably read a few every week, and one I came across this week was in Forbes magazine and headlined, “7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders.”

My eyes rolled when I first read the headline, but then I continued reading it and found it to be quite interesting.

The story was essentially an interview by Kathy Caprino with a best-selling leadership author, Dr. Tim Elmore, who is the founder of an organization dedicated to mentoring young people and helping them become leaders.

The seven “crippling” behaviors included:

  1. We don’t let our children experience risk: “Kids need to fall a few times to learn it’s normal; teens likely need to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend to appreciate the emotional maturity that lasting relationships require. If parents remove risk from children’s lives, we will likely experience high arrogance and low self-esteem in our growing leaders.”
  2. We rescue too quickly: “Today’s generation of young people has not developed some of the life skills kids did 30 years ago because adults swoop in and take care of problems for them. When we rescue too quickly and over indulge our children with ‘assistance’, we remove the need for them to navigate hardships and solve problems on their own.”
  3. We rave too easily: “When we rave too easily and disregard poor behavior, children eventually learn to cheat, exaggerate and lie and to avoid difficult reality. They have not been conditioned to face it.”
  4. We let guilt get in the way of leading well. “Your child does not have to love you every minute. Your kids will get over the disappointment, but they won’t get over the effects of being spoiled. So tell them ‘no’ or ‘not now’ and let them fight for what they really value and need. As parents, we tend to give them what they want when rewarding our children, especially with multiple kids.”
  5. We don’t share our past mistakes: “Share how you felt when you faced a similar experience, what drove your actions and the resulting lessons learned. Because we’re not the only influence on our kids, we must be the best influence.”
  6. We mistake intelligence, giftedness and influence for maturity. “There is no magic ‘age of responsibility’ or a proven guide as to when a child should be given specific freedoms, but a good rule of thumb is to observe other children the same age as yours. If you notice that they are doing more themselves than your child does, you may be delaying your child’s independence.”
  7. We don’t practice what we preach. “As parents, it is our responsibility to model the life we want our children to live. TO help them a lead a life of character and become dependable and accountable for their words and actions. As the leaders of our homes, we can start by only speaking honest words — white lies will surface and slowly erode character. Watch yourself in the little ethical choices that others might notice, because your kids will notice too.”

Some of these points hit home with me, particularly those involving parental guilt, which always eats me alive, and sharing reflections on past mistakes, of which I have learned tons from over my life.

I’m a work in progress as a parent. That’s a good thing I think. That’s why I read these parenting articles, some of which I laugh at and toss aside and others, like this one, I find to carry a lasting impact.