It’s been almost a year since my Are You A Father? post. I’ve spent the last year trying to be the best father I possibly can. My wife had our second child this week and I’ve spent the week thinking about what I’ve learned. How my children will view me as they get older? Will they view me as a good father or a bad father? Did I spend a enough time with them? Show them enough love? Tell them I love them?
I think every parent’s fear is to screw up their kids.
This has me thinking about what my parent’s did to make me a pretty well-adjusted and semi-productive member of society. I think they did three important things:
They took an interest in me.
I was lucky to be born in to a middle class family in the USA. Neither of my parents went to college but they were determined that I go to college. They loved me, didn’t hurt me, and took an interest in me. They didn’t just sign me up for sports and drop me off. They went to every practice and game, and they practiced with me at home. In school, they helped me with homework as well as they could. They made sure I did my homework, quizzed me before exams, and bought me the proper school supplies. They kept their promises and showed up everyday.
They encouraged me to dream.
No dream was to big. Nothing was out of reach. In their eyes I could be anything I wanted to be. A professional athlete, President of the United States, or an astronaut were any of the things I could have done. I was encouraged to paint and draw, and do what made me happy.
The believed in me.
Those dreams weren’t false promises in my parent’s eyes. They really believed they could come true. They believed in me even if those things may not have seemed realistic. They believed I could be whatever I wanted to be and they reminded me when I was down.
One of my favorite books is, The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander. In the book, Benjamin Zander, who is the conductor at the Boston Philharmonic and teaches at the New England Conservatory, talks about how he gave his students an A at the beginning of the semester as an experiment to see what would happen. In the beginning of the semester he had them write letters about why they got an A. He said that by giving his students an A in the beginning allowed them to quite worrying about their grade and gave them the opportunity to experiment with their music. It opened up his students to new possibilities.
That’s what my parent’s did for me. They gave me an A.
My goal as a parent is to give my children an A and allow them to explore new possibilities.