As with everything in my life, I alter the plans to work best for me in accomplishing the goals to be achieved from the pattern most of the rest of the world follows. My idiosyncrasies prohibit me from achieving the desired outcome if I try to do things the way others do them; I spent a lot of years learning this about myself…if I do it another’s way, I always fail, without exception…I know how to adapt things for me, and when came to raising three children, I did the same thing. I made decisions that would achieve the goals I set for them. When I looked into the lives others who either were raising children, or had raised children I saw two common denominators…those successes and/or the failures in the lives of the children could always be traced back to the decisions of the parents, and those successes parents always take credit for, and the failures they always blame the children.
My children were unfortunate enough to wind up in a dysfunctional family, with parents who continually made bad choices and thought life was one big fucking party. If I made choices concerning them the way I made choices for myself, they would have grown up making the same type of choices that I made, and from the beginning I didn’t want that for them, and so I sought the tools they would need to have so that I could make sure that by the time they were stepping into adulthood they would be prepared to face those decisions in a way I never considered before; and not be jaded and scarred with a lifetime of learning life’s lessons the hard way.
I’m not going to give a step by step here of how my children were raised. There would be too much to talk about, because the fact of the matter is, my bad choices were phenomenally bad and should have drastically set a path of destruction for these three precious lives I found in my care, but life has a way of balancing out when we choose to seek that balance…and in the midst of those failures…I was continually making some very good decisions on their behalf, and in so doing building in them a foundation that wouldn’t break as a result of the chaotic moments I have known as a 40 year storm and must by necessity look back on as my life!
This is the testament of my success; my children. All three are in college now, two on academic scholarships, and the third with a full time job, working his way through. The two oldest have only ever two jobs, and they stay with their employers for years, they don’t hop from job to job; they are loyal employees. My youngest has yet to accept his first actual job, but in all honesty, has had no need too.
I’m just going to give three examples of the kind of people my children have become. These reflect what it was I had in mind twenty years ago when I thought about what they would need now.
All of my children were allowed to date by the time they were 16, and they all went to their proms, but none date steady until after high school…their own choice. My daughter Jessica, decided when she was 16 that she didn’t want a relationship until she had finished school. She will graduate next month with her Bachelors Degree in health science, and she has kept true to the path she set for herself with that decision. Make no mistake in assuming wrong…my daughter is a “hottie”…there has been no lack of attention from the male persuasion…but she will only build friendships, and if she don’t know you, you ain’t getting a date with her! A boy has to earn his way into her circle of friends before she will give him the time of day, PERIOD!
I dreamed of her having such Wisdom when I was only a boy who had become a father. I didn’t know any women who made these kind of choices, I had never dated one…didn’t even think they existed in all honesty; I now know otherwise, but they were not in my life when dreamed of who my daughter could be. Jessica wouldn’t have been able to achieve this, if I didn’t hold on to that dream, and find a way to make it happen. I set myself on a course to achieve that…and yes, I brought my storm of a life into places people in my circles just didn’t go or attend, but I had to if I was going to learn how to make choices for her, and I had to make those choices then while she was young, if I didn’t, I couldn’t expect her to make them now on her own. I was all the evidence I needed of that.
I didn’t know even one girl that had this kind of commitment and wisdom. Not long ago I asked my daughter, “Why did you decide to stay single and out of the dating scene all this time?” This was her reply, “Dad. I’ve watched my friends all these years, in and out of relationships, the excitement and the heartbreaks they always go through. I don’t want that roller-coaster ride of emotions and all the turmoil such relationship seem to demand while I’m going to school and preparing for my career. I’m happier this way!” That’s my first jewel! She’s committed to her success and happiness, and is determined to have it…and she has the skills to achieve that. That’s my daughter!
My first-born son, Mark, is a shinning example of loyalty. One of the things that I have always been fortunate to have, is strong friendships. I have known since I was a boy, that a person with a ton of friends, usually has virtually none that don’t gossip about them with all the others…trust has to be earned through trial and fire, and unfortunately the best friendships are not made in the best times, they are made in the worst times, and I have friends that have been through some worst shit this world could ever conceive to dish, me included, and that is where I made my friends. I didn’t want that for Mark, and he is gifted with a genuine kindness and an ability to be genuine on an intimate level with his buddies. He doesn’t hold back! He loves and he cares, and his friends know it, because of how he treats them.
He turned 21 this year! That is a big deal birthday for a young man these days. And 9 of his friends made sure to be by his side for this night! Why is that a big deal…because my son was born on Christmas Eve. They all left their family holidays, and in the town my son lives in…everything is closed that night, including the bars…they all met at his house and stayed up all night, spent the entire evening having fun and hanging out with him until Christmas morning to celebrate their friend’s birthday with him and make it special, not about Christmas, but about Mark, my son! That’s my second jewel!
My youngest, Paul, is attending his first year at college (and loves it!) He’s in a big city, and will probably never live in a small town again. He was the one I taught to take care of his body, taught to love the gym, taught to fight, and the wisdom not too, and he has my obstinate determination of will, with skill I never had at his age…the ability to keep his mouth shut when he wants nothing more than to cuss somebody out. And takes that energy and he goes to the gym, and burns it off. I know what it’s like to be a volcano of anger, but I gave him what he needed to keep him out of trouble; respect for authority. He says, “yes sir” or “yes mam” when in the presence of other adults. He may be thinking “fuck this”, but stays silent, at least until he can’t, and then goes away, to deal with it.
This is important. My son is a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. I put him on a path of power. He knows he can kill a man….and he has my stubbornness, so he needs the balance of knowing mature men don’t fight to prove themselves. If I ain’t prepared to die, and I ain’t prepared to kill, then I ain’t prepared to fight. I’m prepared to fight! My son is prepared to fight! That’s why we don’t, because with that kind of ability, the consequence has to be that high, or we take it for granted. Those who strive to always be the best and prove it by fighting, eventually meet their better, and prove they are NOT the best, by dying! My son, Paul, is the first in my paternal lineage to have all this WILL, all this STRENGTH, all these SKILLS, and not feel he had to prove it as a boy by getting into fights! That is a self control for which I have great admiration, because I understand completely what it takes to restrain the temper that goes along with that will! And he has that ability as a teenager! He is my third jewel!
Maturity, loyalty, humility, respect, determination, are just some of the qualities my children resonate in their decisions, both in what they choose to do, and what they choose not to do! I never expect to win father of the year, in fact, I still do damage control from my own failures that blow through the storm of my existence, but I am a SUCCESSFUL PARENT, and they are the proof. Everything, and I mean every single attribute that I dreamed for my children to possess is a part of who they are…and I have to say, by choosing that for them, I’ve learned a great deal about life, being a man, and honor, myself.