Personally – I know my parents uttered similar phrases many times. They really had no idea what went on in my mind sometimes.
Now that I am a parent, I need to be aware of that fact – “my parents had no idea”.
Take a second and think – did your parents know the real you and all of your secrets…? Do you really think you know your kids? That should be a sobering thought for some of you.
My parents meant well. Most parents do, really. But often parents take the “my way or the highway” approach and that leads to many dishonest conversations.
So what are we to do? No rules? Laissez-faire parenting – nope!
Create an honest environment: Why is this important? Pretty simple. Our family needs to be able to see that sharing your feelings, and thoughts won’t harm you or those that love you. The craziest thought, needs to get out so we can talk about it. So he can understand himself, so he can deal with his feelings. If not, my child will walk in everyday, say “hi dad” run off to his room and go off into worlds unknown getting answers and guidance from unsafe, unloving, uncaring people.
As fathers – we need to be a safe and available outlet to our family. Our children need to feel that the fear of letting us down, or disappointing us is not what they need to fear. What they need to fear is apathy and detachment. Further – we need to be more honest, and say what we really feel so that they see that it is okay to say what you really think. Again, we may disagree – I am not saying to listen and “that’s it” – you need to listen and ask questions. Engage. Understand. Connect.
There is no greater connection then being open. Sharing your past experiences, your mistakes and making an environment where perfection and pursuit of ideals is NOT the goal. The pursuit of honesty, love of people, and respect of others ideas – that is the goal.
Here are two articles about parents who probably thought they had real, honest, conversations with their sons. They are extreme examples, but examples nonetheless. Let’s embrace conversation with our children and commit to not say, “my child could never do that.” Let’s also commit to be there for our kids in every stage of life.
Links to Boston bombing suspects parents interviews below: