Throwing Open the Gates to Their Future.Careers are so embedded in men, that as most knowledge is passed down within the framework of their field, that field is often chosen by his children. But essential, axiomaticknowledge is used in any field, and this is what must be passed down.Imagine if a lawyer chose his profession from deep personal interest, then saw his son choose law because he knew of nothing else. To his son, it’s just a job. The father may encounter a junior counselor with the same passion he feels—the desire to make a difference—and feel a kinship he desires to feel with his own son. He couldfeel that kinship, if he steered his son towards the discovery of his ownpassions, instead of following in his footsteps. Passion—living fulfillment—should be the parallel in their lives to share, where career is only a medium.
Self-made Man knows what his children will go through; he’s lived it himself. He knows of peer pressure, ridicule, bullies, cliques and from kindergarten, how early we can become endeared to others. As a parent, he doesn’t deny that sex is a part of life, especially in teenage years. He doesn’t ignore or try to limit their sexual interest, from playmates to crushes to dating. He never makes attraction out to be evil, sinful or wrong. By conveying sound values, he desires only to see their choices be wholesome and happy. With the complexity of a responsible, fulfilling life already instilled, he will see them making sound family planning decisions instead of the nightmare of mindless, unprepared teen childbirth. He faces life with them again, as open as his children are ready to be. He can see the phases of life before they come, and meets the challenge with a wise, tolerant bearing.
Most parents long for an open relationship with their kids; they claim to desire friendship, but they don’t foster it. It seems they forgot what friends are. How do we deal with friends? Do we tell them what to do? Do we pretend puberty, relationships and peer issues aren’t happening? Do we limit our friends, dictating who they can see, what they can do and what they can wear? Do we rifle through their belongings, invade their privacy and accost them, assuming the worst? If we take these actions, then we won’t be close and they won’t tell us anything. We won’t be friends, and they won’t even be friendly. At best, they’ll tolerate us until they can escape. How we treat our kids is most likely how they’ll treat their kids. Most battled this same oppression, only to nod off and have it destroy the peace a generation later. If you want to skip the belligerent and disagreeable phase, then wake up and stay real, Mom and Dad!
This is a good conversation to have at the age of about fourteen or fifteen: “Soon it will be time for you to take full control of your life. You must be prepared to do that, and that takes practice. I want you to begin to take as much responsibility over yourself as you can handle, right now. I’m here to help and answer any questions you wish to ask. I encourage you to ask others you respect, who live the kind of life you want to lead. I know that I cannot be your protector, softening the consequences of your lessons in life. So I’ll do the only moral thing I can do, and get out of the way. I expect a payoff for the investment I’ve made in you. I expect you to be happy. I expect you to work with the passion and determination to make your life worthwhile, and to make your dreams come true. I believe in you, and I trust you will make sound decisions, not for my sake, but for yours.
Your coming of age preparation begins this weekend (maybe after a birthday). You are getting your own cell phone. You are getting your own credit card. We will work out a savings plan, so when the time comes, you’ll have a down payment for the kind of car you want.” Then you can go on to help them with job and career selection, help decide whether college is necessary, and help them map it all out. Self-made Man knows there is never only one chance to succeed. Kids can be wrong—the art is in recombining, experimenting and never giving up in the pursuit of whatever they wish life to be.