Lessons I Will Not Teach My Children

1. You Cannot Have Everything You Want

This is not to be confused with the trite little adage that ‘you can be anything you want when you grow up’. That’s not true. You cannot be an NFL linebacker if your gene pool has endowed you with a 4′ 11″ frame.

I view my role as someone who can encourage my kids to get whatever it is they want – Pokemon cards, visits with friends, classes, cash, Olympic medals, a cure for cancer, fame or fortune.

I do not see my role as having to deliver these things to my kids – but I will help them sort out ideas and methods to get to what they want. Ultimately, I want them to see Dennis and I as people who are on their side and want them to have as much of whatever it is they want.

I try very hard to monitor any ‘no’ that is going to come out of my mouth. I want to say ‘yes’ to my kids as many times as I can. I want my boys to believe if there is something they want, there is most likely a route to get there. If there is not, I am not going to be the bearer of that news, I want them to figure out what is possible for them.

2. Adults Are Always Right

They just aren’t. I think this message gets sent to kids in overt and subtle ways. They are taught to obey all types of authority figures and often not permitted to question whether it is right or wrong. I remember thinking many times during childhood about how something did not make sense to me, but it went unquestioned because it came from an another adult, especially a teacher. This is a dangerous message to allow children to believe. Adults with nefarious intent count on this.

My kids and I have endless conversations about how I would like them to handle certain circumstances. I am giving them tools to navigate the world politely without having to defer all of their own feelings and opinions – yes, even mine. I have told them that they have the right to decline a request from an adult. They are safer in the world with this attitude.

Recently, at the beach, a woman spoke to Mikey and told him that his mother was not watching him closely enough and he did not belong in the rough surf and that he should get out. He reported that he smiled and moved over away from the woman. Fine with me. Mikey knew he had my permission to be exactly where is was and did not need to consider her opinion just because she was an adult.

I am not teaching them complete disrespect for our opinions or people – just that they can consider things that don’t sound right to them and they can consult their father and I when they run into that situation.

3. Life Is Hard – Get Used To It 

I have heard parents make the argument that kids better learn to get up early and do things they don’t like – in third grade – because it will prepare them for a life of working! There you go kids, something to aspire too!

I am going with ‘Life is beautiful and full of opportunity; choose what you want to experience and create the life that you want’. I don’t want my boys to believe that they are at the random mercy of some predestined road they need to trod. I want them to blaze a trail, create the company they want to work for, find the career paths that match their goals and temperaments – but I don’t want them to drink the Kool-Aid – that ‘Life is Hard – get used to it’ – Life is gorgeous, go paint on your canvas!

Idealistic – maybe? Better than the alternative message – definitely!

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Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook

What will you ‘not’ teach your kids?

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