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So, in case you were wondering, it is difficult to be a parent.  I think the biggest mistake that parents make is the effort we place on how our children should be.  Before my oldest son was born, I received the greatest advice that I ever received regarding parenting.  I was told, “You can decide what kind of parent you will be, but you can’t decide what kind of child you will have.”  Almost everyday that I have been a parent, this statement has been true.

Despite that great advice, I find myself on a regular basis trying to “mold” my children in, not necessarily “my image”, but at least a close facsimile of “my image”.  Scratch that, not “my image”, but the image of what I think they should be.  In other words, the advice that I find to be so true, I break all the time.  So why is this so difficult?  Let me put it this way, I think there is a fine line between molding your child and wishing the best for them.  Some time what we think is best and who we are as people mix together like a bad bowl of oatmeal. The reality is that I love my children as they are, but I love them too much to let them stay that way.

So, my goal is NOT to change my kids, but to help them be the best “them” they can be.  Which is what inspired a pretty big fight between my oldest son and myself.  Like so many parent/child fights, it began with ‘good intentions’.  My son is my research assistant this summer.  We work with an animal known as a marmot.  We spend several weeks collecting data for my research.  Luckily for me, he is with me voluntarily.  I am sure this will not be the case forever, but I am thankful he is with me now.

The research does not take all day, and we have many ‘free’ hours in the cabin, and the cabin has Wi-Fi.  So, instead of him being plugged in for hours per day, I suggested a study schedule of his more difficult subjects, French and Biology.  He begins high school next year, and I wanted him to do well.  This of course would be in addition to his assignment of reading a book (assigned by my wife) during the summer.  Well, let’s just say that he was not impressed with this plan and was quite upset at the prospect of his father destroying his summer.

I don’t have time to go into all of the details of our heated discussion, but suffice to say, it was heated, and if you were in the room, you’d think I was threatening to take away his food and make him sleep outside.  But you know the real kicker? At some point during our discussion, it became clear to me that he thought that I wanted him to study because I did not think he would be able to handle High School.  He felt I had no faith in his abilities.

How many problems in relationships are caused by miscommunication?  Hurtful words as a result of insecurities?  What if we could lead with love and support rather than change and criticism?  I love my son, and I know he can do well in High School, and I really want to help.  But it is clear to me, that in my desire to help, I must lead with love and support.  He needs to know that I am his biggest fan.  He needs help not because he lacks the ability, he needs help because we all need help to be the best we can be.  The fight calmed down when I shared my own areas where I need help.  I am not a perfect parent, but a parent that I hope to be.  To do that, I need lots of help.

Today, we discussed a chapter of ‘Catching Fire’ and answered French questions on the app, Duolingo.  He read without being asked, started telling me about the chapter without prompting, and we did Duolingo together.  I can’t decide what kind of child I can have, but I am very lucky to have the one I got.

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One way to get your kid interested in going to college is having them hang out with college kids.  My son and I eat dinner surrounded by college kids.  Between the swear words being used as naturally as breathing, sexual innuendos, and stories of college escapades that no 14-year old should hear, you’d think I would be warping my son.  He laughs on a regular basis, and I am pretty sure he can’t wait to be ‘one of them’.  Who says that there is no value in crude crass college kids? I’m just sayin …

 

 

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