November 10, 2008
My Mentors for Parenting...
I am a real TV Baby Boomer nut!!! I can’t begin to list all the advice that I actually got from Dad’s of TV shows. It sounds ridiculous, but I actually can attribute Andy Griffin, Dick Van Dike, Jim Anderson, Ward Cleaver, and up to the TV show, “Home Improvement” dad, Tim, “The Toolman” Taylor to giving me more good advice than any other on being a good father. Of course, my memory is reinforced, thankfully, by repeats of these shows on channels like TV Land. :-)
I was always moved emotionally when any of these Dads used understanding and some wisdom to teach their children some valuable lessons about life and how to treat others. These were fathers who were very into their families and their children. Obviously, there were many 1950’s family characteristics that seemed to show the father as the head of the household, but in almost every case, the mother was really the driving force and many times the light of compassion and understanding for whatever problems “The Beaver” would get into. Later shows such as “Home Improvement” showed a more balanced effort of parenting of both the mother and the father, but obviously for me, I looked to the father’s as my mentors as they cared about how their children learned right from wrong.
Actually, I am still learning from these dads, even though my youngest daughter is almost 20 and in college. I have always been driven to insure that I did whatever I could to make my children try their hardest at whatever they do, respect others and always accept people for who they are on the inside and not let other friends influence them to treat people disrespectfully. At the same time, I find it hard to deal with my children going into those more self centered years of adolescence, when they don’t necessarily look to you as the best example of all things in life, like they did when they were little. Such an example occurred between the dad from “Home Improvement” and one of his sons. The best advice that the kindly and ever wise next door neighbor, Wilson, gave to Tim (the dad) Taylor was “how can a child become a man (or woman/adult) unless they stop looking at the parent as a God and start questioning their parent to learn how to become an adult themselves?” This was an excellent point and hit me as I wonder many times right now why my 20 year old daughter doesn’t necessarily call us or come home to visit us as much as we think she should be doing....or why she doesn’t think to email me or gives us only as much information as we ask for and doesn’t sit down and ask for heart to heart sessions. She is learning to make these decisions herself.
These are just normal actions of a person becoming an adult! I can remember when I began to think that I knew better ways of doing things than my parents and I looked less to them for constant guidance. Then, as we get older, we begin to realize the importance of our parents and that they won’t live forever and both start to make an effort to let them know we appreciate them as well as acknowledge that we are young and haven’t gone through the amount of life experiences that our parents have, so we can come to them when we are confused and need help making a decision.
Children come back, as my older daughter, who is almost 30 now. She is closer to me now than she has been for many years. She is a teacher and as she interacts with children and their parents, now her mind can relate to things that she may have disagreed with years before.
So here’s to my Heros (and I don’t mean Superman...) when I was growing up and how they helped me be a better Dad! Here’s to Andy, Dick, Ward, Tim and all my other Dad heros who I think did a pretty good job with me as my children are great examples of the kind of people I hoped they would be and actually... that I aspire to be as well