Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

5/13/2006

A cautionary tale about parenting

Filed under: — stan @ 12:48 pm

This past week marked 24 years since I graduated from college. So in honor of that, I went up in the attic and visited my diploma. Well, actually, I had to go up in the attic to check the rat trap, but while I was there I saw my diploma. I had tried hanging it on the wall for a while back in the ’80s, but I just didn’t like looking at it. You see, I didn’t care much for the school I went to. In fact, I pretty much hated it. And when I graduated, I swore a solemn vow to do everything I could to forget about it. I have kept my diploma largely because every job I’ve ever had has wanted to see it on the first day. So I can’t throw it away. At least not until I retire.

This is a cautionary tale because it relates to parenting, and that’s something that is on our minds a lot. A few years ago, we took a parenting class. The teacher talked to us about how to get your kid to do what you want. It’s easy when they are small. When a kid is 3, “because I said so” can actually be a valid reason. But she also said that if you are still saying that when the kid is 16, you’ve failed. This relates to my college experience because “because I said so” is how I chose where to go, which is to say that I didn’t so much choose as have it chosen for me. Which is funny, since my mother always told me that choosing where to go to college was one of the most important decisions I would ever make. I guess I just didn’t understand the subtext, which was “therefore we’re going to make it for you so you don’t get it wrong.” And so this is what I think about whenever we have to make a decision for our child. It’s always tempting to think, “you’ll thank me for this when you’re older”, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And now that I’m on the other side, I want to always remember that and try not to run roughshod over my kid’s feelings and wishes. Even when she’s only seven years old.

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