Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with Kim DeMarchi and Ann DeWitt of Passport To Parenting and tape a live show on my book, The Dad Connection. Not only did I have a wonderful time meeting with both of them, but it’s always special when you find that someones parenting values align with your own.
Please listen as the ladies at Passport to Parenting and I discuss:
- Three rules I used when raising my boys
- The most important thing you can do as a parent
- The building the bridge metaphor from The Dad Connection
- Advice for single parents
- Our personal parenting inspirations
- How to stay connected to your child, even in the tween years
CLICK HERE to hear our conversation and the full Passport to Parenting show on The Dad Connection.
This past weekday was my birthday. It is a rather old one, at least relatively speaking, and it got me to thinking that there are many old sage sayings like, “The more I know the less I understand” or “The more we learn, the more there is to learn”, and on and on. I don’t exactly see how that is possible. My experience is that I do, in fact, know more than I did last year. I‘ve had new experiences this year, and I have built stronger relationships with old friends and began new ones.
Does this give me more knowledge? Maybe. Does this make me wiser? Maybe. Does this increase my understanding? Maybe. I think the more relevant issue here is not what we don’t know, but what we do know. It has to be more, it just has to.
For instance if we explore a new possibility, say rock climbing, then we will surely be exposed a considerable amount of information to which we had no previous knowledge, knots, arm strength, fear, terminology and so on. Some of these become immediate new learnings and understandings which should add to our overall life knowledge. Some of these might even change our perception on specific things. And some may even compel us to make a life change. It’s most likely that new experiences like rock climbing will, at the very least, broaden our life understanding and provide us with more insight and understanding than we had had previously. Doesn’t this surely make us wiser? It should.
The only reason I can think of why it wouldn’t add to our ‘wisdom’ is that unfortunately, we also become aware of all that we might not know. What we do not know about knots and about arm strength and even our fears. What we don’t know and the fear (that often follows) should not block the wonder of what we do know, although this a commonly shared response for many of us.
Embracing our coming years with expectation that our knowledge will invariably grow is part of our responsibility as an adult. I believe we are built to learn. It is one of the strongest forces in our survival mechanism. We learn more and we pass on the knowledge, focusing on how much we don’t know is not helpful. We do in fact often get information that opens us to our ignorance, but if it is balanced by what we know and just learned it should be greater than our ignorance. That’s the idea. We may have to set aside any fear the new information exposes and let what we learn as we age stand alone. It is a great gift to our children and younger people. I believe we can and should trust in our learning, not fear what we do not know.
Being the ‘best dad you can be’ is not enough, it simply isn’t. You hear new parents say this all the time before their child’s birth and it is becoming the new modern dads mantra. Instead of striving for mediocrity, strive for greatness.
Being a great dad is not rocket science. First, there are hundreds if not thousands of books and well informed articles that tell us how to do it. We’d have to be illiterate not to be able to get it. Second, being a parent is one of our primary survival instincts. Breeding to propagate our species is the core driving force in our gene code, every gene is oriented to satisfying that single objective. It is true for all species. We focus on surviving just so we can mate and push our species to the next generation. Our genes adapt in order to survive and reproduce. Think about it, without reproduction no species would continue to exist, it’s unarguable science.
So the responsibility of first creating offspring and then caring for it is paramount to a successful species development and expansion. The human species has embraced that strategy with relentless force, like no other species to date. Other species, even bacteria and viruses, survive through massive reproduction efforts, but no species embraces ‘caring’ like the humans. It is one of the primary distinguishing aspects of being human. Elephants, wolves and chimps have varying levels of care for their offspring, but no other species can hold a candle to us humans.
This is part two of the Parenting Generational Gap, in part one I explain how we need to change our mindset from that of child self teaching to that of proper parenting.
This will undoubtedly require a shift in perspective by the parent. He or she will have to accept the fact that they have the where-with-all to get informed and it is their parental responsibility to do it. I’ve been hanging out with some grandparents lately and when we begin discussing their grandchildren this same type of closed and opinionated mindset is expressed. I understand that a significant number of older parents are not as well informed and certainly many of them did not have the unique advantage contemporary parents have with regard to information.
Today you can literally be in a conversation with your child and if you are unsure how to advise him/her then you can google it. Rarely is an intelligent and relevant answer not there. Amazing, simply amazing. Therefore it is no longer excusable to tell our children “You’ll have to figure it out.” or “Nobody told me when I was your age.” It is our responsibility to provide our kids with relevant information, now what they do with it is a different discussion entirely.
“Nobody told me how to get friends when I was your age, I just did it”.
“My teacher didn’t tell me how to study for a test, I learned from my mistakes”.
“My parents didn’t tell me how to have a good marriage, I learned it the hard way”.
This is such an closed minded reaction by a parent to their kids. In the past I have heard this many times when talking to parents about their children and what they think their kids deserve. Some older parents actually believe that not knowing because they weren’t taught is okay. This philosophy and the branding of their own parenting style around it is lazy at best and borders on irresponsible at the worst.
We have the wonderful opportunity today to know much more than our parents and our offspring will know much more than us. This is the cycle that should advance, not the tired and overused “I didn’t have it and I turned out okay, so you will be fine too” mentality. It takes a wish to learn more, to understand better and to provide a different intelligence as the parent. This is a different paradigm than that of many of our previous generations and it should be embraced.
Read more on this topic next Wednesday, January 16th.