I’m turning over the blog to the dads for the next three days. Blanc2 writes about parenting today, and Ken will provide tomorrow’s Quote, Unquote and a piece on Father’s Day. Please welcome the dads.
© Blanc2 2010
Raising kids is by far the most challenging yet important thing we do. It is challenging on many levels, from the quotidian details of getting stuff done to the big picture/long range shaping that parents do.
I have both a son and a daughter. They are very, very different in their personality types, their strengths and weaknesses, etc. Every day I have to remind myself to honor and respect each of them in his individual capacities. Some days I find myself irritated by my daughter’s almost unbelievable level of slobbishness. Sometimes I chafe at my son’s staggering level of distraction from reality. At those times I must remind myself that both have near 100 averages in school, with healthy friendships and a plethora of extracurricular activities. In other words, they are at their core good people with lots of potential, though at times they may be irritating as room mates.
The other part of that difference is making it a point not to show or play favorites. Make sure that each knows he is loved in equal amounts.
As to gender differences, as I posted earlier, for my daughter I am terrified of her dating. Like many mixed girls, she looks like she’ll grow up to be very pretty. She’s probably going to attract a lot of male attention. I really want her to grow up valuing herself for the things she can accomplish – her skill in the classroom, on the soccer field, or on the drum throne – not for her looks, which, no matter how pretty she is, are fleeting and ephemeral. I’m one of those dads fiercely committed to the notion that my daughter will not experience the “math and science slump” that so many girls encounter. Thus, I work with her on math and science daily.
When the boys do start coming around, which I know is inevitable, I will be watching them. I’ll probably be one of those “helicopter dads,” though in reality my daughter probably won’t need me. She is smart and extremely perceptive. She knows her own heart. She is strong and fierce and fearless. A friend told me that I need to worry more about the boys than about my daughter, whom my friend calls “a little spitfire.” He said I need to pull the boys aside and say to them, sotto voce: “Son, there’s nothing I can do to protect you. You’re on your own.”
As to my son, raising him is much simpler for me, as it probably is for most dads. Where my daughter is multi-faceted and complex, almost impossible sometimes to understand, my son is pretty much just like I was at his age. I know exactly what motivates him. I see my role in his life as preparing him to meet the world as a man. The world can be a very hard, unforgiving place, but a place where one can find much joy and fulfillment if one is proactive about seeking them. I push my son to achieve and succeed. I know that at times he resents me for it now. But I also know that when he is older he will be happy that I made him realize his potential, which in his case is very high. I feel like the worst thing I could do for my son is to allow myself to lapse into having low expectations for him.