Friday, January 24, 2014

When i wanted to know how to be a great ____, I looked to _____.

I am listening to a new book on tape... I guess you young folks call them audio books these days, but what a privilege to be able to have a book read to me as I drive or walk or clean... Anyway, I am listening to a fascinating book on the sperm bank that only held the sperm of Nobel Prize winners...  Yep. Cause that happened. (well, it kind of happened....) And the one line that has stuck with me so far is when the narrator read, "when I wanted to know how to be a good man, I simply looked to my father". The author, David Plotz, was speaking of his father. And it got me to thinking.

Bill, Max Archer's daddy and my husband, has spent that last several year working incredibly hard to finish his Masters Degree while also working full time, building a business, and remaining committed to his practice of Kung Fu. And being a dad and a husband... His plate has been very, very full. And whenever I have encouraged him to slow down, take some time off, he has told me, in one way or another, that he is doing it for his family.

Especially for Max Archer, the little boy who walks just like him, with the exact same body, and the same determination and drive.

I always thought that it was so that Max would see him as someone who was driven, educated, committed, and so that he could be financially and personally successful, so Max would be proud of him.

However, as I thought about that line in the book, I began to think that maybe it was as much about Max having someone to emulate as it is having someone to look up to...

Because, when it comes down to it, "do as I say, not as I do" is likely the least effective parenting technique around.

However, "do as I do" when it comes to the big things like working hard, caring for others and ourselves, being confident and courageous, and saying the happy things and the hard things in a way that models the best of what we are and what we hope for in those we love, especially our children, is the stuff that great lives are built on...

After all, a builder with an apprentice does not lay a faulty foundation and say, "Well, here is how NOT to do it... So, don't do it like that...." He (or she) works to lay the absolute best foundation he knows how, the flattest, smoothest, and strongest he can, and demonstrates the technique, then lets the apprentice try to do the same... and, if he does make a mistake... if the foundation does crack, he shows him how to fix it....  and how not to make the same mistake over again.

This whole parenting thing... maybe it is more about ensuring that our children have access to more people showing them possibilities than telling them about them. More people walking in front of them along the path, lighting the way, and less people walking behind them offering commentary and criticism every step of the way.

Maybe instead of trying to offer a map, we should be simply showing them how we drew our own, and making sure that we are giving them tools that they will need in their own journey, where ever it leads them....

Be a how to, instead of a how not to....and add in others to the mix whose examples offer glimpses of other and different, but equally fulfilling, journeys....

Because when your child wants to learn to be a good person, a happy person, a fulfilled person, don't you want them to look to you and to the others you have brought into their lives?