“She has me enrolled in a parenting class but I’m learning everything I need to know from Dad.” This began the discussion.
I was quick to point out to Zach that all he’s learned from me is my approach to parenting. What I understand about parenting didn’t come out of thin air. It’s the result of years of study, talking to other parents and trial and learning.
Parenting is the most real time learning experience I’ve ever known. Just when I think I’ve figured something out my children have new experiences and new questions that require me to think on my feet.
I explained to Zach as I explain to you now. I’m not the parent my father taught me to be, I’m the parent my children need me to be. I was raised in a much different time than my children are being raised in and I have to pay close attention to their experience of the world as they see it if I’m to come close to understanding it.
The Internet was first available when I started college. My boys were surfing the internet when they were in diapers.
My father who doesn’t read books and doesn’t have an email address lectured me about how much I was wasting my time by going into social work as a career. He insisted I could only make a living if I learned a trade.
He was trying to sell me on the world as he saw it.
We are raising our children in the world they’re growing up in, it is critical to remember that. When many of us were growing up we could only talk to many of our friends if they happened to be home when we knocked on the door.
Now our kids look to see if their friends are online on Facebook.
The world is changing faster than any of us can keep up with, but here is something that doesn’t change – the critical importance of listening to learning from your child.
I’m not the parent I am because of the parent my father was. I’m not the parent I am because I was born to parent. I’m the parent I am because I’ve made certain decisions about what it means to be a parent, a father, a dad.
Foremost of which is the belief that it isn’t my job to be the smartest person in the room, it is my job to be the most responsible.
I’m responsible for modeling values that I’ve learned create positive results in life – then encourage my boys to explore the results these values create in their lives.
I’m responsible for listening, for caring and when needed for apologizing.
I’m responsible for learning.
If there’s anything I want to teach my boys about being a Dad it is the importance of becoming the person your children need you to be. Not a perfect father or a perfect person, but a humble student who models the importance of learning, applying, falling and getting back up.
When you live that kind of a life with your child you will raise children unafraid to take risks and excited about new experiences. With the way the world is changing, new experiences are often the most common ones and our children need to be able to embrace them as the adventures that they are.
Thanks for being you.
Brian R. King LCSW is a #1 Best Selling Author, 25-year cancer survivor, adult with Dyslexia, ADHD, and Asperger’s. He’s also the father of three sons on the autism spectrum. He is known worldwide for his books and highly engaging presentations that teach the power of connection and collaboration. His strategies empower others to overcome their differences so they can build powerful and lasting partnerships. His motto is: We’re all in this together.