Requirements for Parents

I HATE roller coasters!

Parenting is not for the weak or faint of heart.  I mean that.  As any parent could tell you, the responsibilities are enormous.  The offspring of human beings are the most dependent for the longest period of time of any mammal.  As our children’s guardians through life, it is our duty to feed them, to clothe them, to protect and lead them.

But the most underrated of our jobs, in my opinion, is to keep the slate with which they’re born as clean and for as long as possible.  Children are born with no (mis)conception of what to expect from the world.  While this naivety can be dangerous (we don’t want them to learn the bad way that running with scissors is bad or that being hit by a car really, really hurts), it is also quite refreshing when you think about it.

Kids think they can do anything, that they can become anyone.  They believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.  They believe couples who are in love and get married always stay together-forever.  And they believe that things that go up only come down when and how we want them to.  Nothing scares them.  Well, except the dark, of course.

And this is where I come in.  I don’t like heights.  I don’t like standing on balconies more than four or five stories high.  I don’t particularly like flying.  And I definitely, DEFINITELY don’t like roller coasters.  I don’t know if it’s the heights or the drops or the mere fact that I know there is the smallest possibility that something could go wrong; but something about them freaks me out.

But we’re in San Diego on vacation and my kids wanted to go to LegoLand, home of the scariest roller coaster in the world.  Well actually, it’s probably a 1 or 2 on a scale from 1 to 10 if you’re scoring at home.  The point is, like most kids I’d suspect, mine wanted to go on this ride.  It’s the first thing they saw when we walked through the gates.

So I had a decision to make.  I could do what my gut told me to do, what my brain told me I should do.  That was to ask my wife to take them on the ride, while I watched.  But I don’t want my kids to inherit my fears and hangups.  Life will give them plenty of their own without my crippling them unnecessarily from the beginning.  So, I sucked it up, pretended I wasn’t worried, and went on the ride.  And I was scared like a little baby!  My son, too.  (Maybe because he was sitting next to his wimpy dad!)  The girls did fine, my wife laughing the whole time and my daughter asking to go on the ride immediately after we got out of our seats.

The parting point is simple.  We may not like to swim, but we should encourage our kids to get in the water.  Just like we should let our daughters join the math club, even though we never did well in the subject.  We should’t avoid taking our kids on flights to see other parts of the country, even if we’re afraid of flying.  And when we are at the amusement park facing our biggest fear, we should do our best to hide our fears so that our children–because they won’t have them–won’t have to face theirs.

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About bbluford
I am an executive finance professional with a love for process and application development (MS Access, Excel, Quickbooks), mostly as it relates to Accounting and Business Functions. I also love to write and share ideas with other people in this world. I'm an admitted Gym Rat who works out excessively. The best summation of me is that I love to teach and to learn.

6 Responses to Requirements for Parents

  1. Julie Manriquez says:

    We know that rollercoaster, Bobby, and my daughter is (at 13!) still unwilling to brave it! You’re not alone. Great post….sometimes the scariest thing we see in our kids is….OURSELVES! 🙂

    • bbluford says:

      Yes. And because we (think we) know more than they do, we try to foresee what might happen to them. At the end of the day, a great man told me several months ago, God will take care of them a lot better than we could ever. It is our jog to teach, advice, coach, and lead; then get out of the way so we don’t rub our life experiences on them.

  2. Jimmy says:

    Confidence plays a big part in one’s life. And it’s foundation is laid down early in life. It’s so important to set that expectation as a parent (I imagine).

    Nice work Bobby. You’re a great dad.

    -Jimmy

    • bbluford says:

      Thanks for the post, Jimmy. You are absolutely right. Several theories and studies have shown and continue to show the impact of the interplay between student and teacher. (I use “teacher” and “student” as the general terms for any leader/follower relationship like in sports and in the family unit). This dynamic relationships reveals two key takeaways.

      1. Students who are told they are smart (or dumb) will perform much better (or worse) on subsequent
      tests.
      2. Teachers who are informed beforehand which of their students are stars and which ones will become trouble, deprives kids their right to a clean slate, a fair start. Before giving his first lesson, the teacher has already formed an opinion of each of his students. And how he teaches, even treats, them will likely also be impacted.

      I’m lucky to have had parents who have been so supportive and encouraging in everything I’ve ever done. In hindsight, I’m thankful they never told me how skinny and slow I was when I first started playing football. Well, after believing I was an athlete, then training so hard that I kinda became one, it was really too late to matter! My hope is simply that childish ignorance (not know what we can’t or should be afraid to do) doesn’t get in the way of our growth and development. Because this type of growth should happen a lot more for all of us.

      Below are some follow-up references that might make good reading.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness

      http://www.users.muohio.edu/shermalw/edp603_group2-f00.html

  3. kristen g. says:

    I love this post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Most of all….I love the picture!!!! Excellent advice Bobby!!!! Excellent…you made me do some heavy parent thinking this evening!!!! 🙂 I hope you guys are enjoying the rest of your trip.

  4. bbluford says:

    Hey Kristen-

    We’re actually having a blast! I mentioned it in an earlier post, but I truly believe that, if not all then definitely, 99.99% of our anxiety, stress, and worry are the most wasteful and useless of our brain activities. I’ve had the best time these last few days because I wasn’t anxious about work for the most part (mostly in the past; can’t do anything about it) and wasn’t overly worried about working out or eating right (mostly in the future; what will I look like if I get overweight? and stuff like that).

    I realized that most of the times I am angry or grumpy or just unable to be in the moment, it’s usually because I’m mentally in either the past or the future. And neither of them help me today. Furthermore,I can’t do anything about tomorrow, and I can plan and do something about tomorrow. In that case,I can replace worry (about the future) for working (to be prepared for the future).

    Then, it doesn’t seem so bad. But it all starts with parenting and making sure we can lead our kids effectively.

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