Monday, November 05, 2007

The Best Advice I Ever Received

My UPI column is now infrequent due to the demands of my business. However, this week I recycled an article I wrote for this blog for today's column. My kids were on my mind as the news broke about Andy Reid's two kids (Eagle's coach) going to prison for drug dealing.


R. Michael said...

The media here in Philly have made much of this story...sad as it is and I have had to resist the temptation to be the "monday-morning parent"...dispensing child-rearing advice like I was Dr. Spock...yet there is part of me that says when you spend the kind of time it takes to be the head coach of an NFL team you pay a heavy price for that...Tony Dungee is a good example as well. Both Dungee and Reid are men of faith (Reid is a mormon).

I am not saying that these men did not do their job as parents...they may have been wonderful parents and yes children make their own choices, yet I am keenly aware that the choices I make as a parent do directly affect my children.

I hope that I can view my children's behavior not so much as a reflection solely of my parenting but more as a combination of my parenting, their choices, and influence of others...hopefully the combination of these things results in a well-adjusted person but only the first is under my control.

Enjoyed reading this column Julie. It reminds me of the choices I have made which I think have been good choices...and also reminds me that I have to start a therapy fund for my kids for some of the things I did not do so well in.

Eileen said...

I cried, I just cried when I read your article over there at the UPI site. I'm the mother of two -- a canary and a cockateil -- and don't clean their cages nearly as often as I should. still, I read the story more from the perspective of being the oldest of five, myself. What a wonderful article. I'm going to figure out how to recommend it to the young mamas I know. Thanks for the link! EE
( Now to get myself a tissue...

Kansas Bob said...

I liked the article Julie but I am missing the tie-in to Andy Reid.

julieunplugged said...

Bob, the tie in isn't in the article. It was the news event that led to my remembering my post and turning it into the column. I've been so sad for Reid... and thinking about choices (one thing that has come up repeatedly for me in the last eight years is that I've turned down opportunities to expand my business rapidly because I worried about not being there for my kids....). So that was the stream of consciousness that led to my article.

Hope that clears it up.

Michael, I so agree that the temptation to view our kids as products of our parenting solely is a danger. It really is a combination of so many factors, perhaps the most powerful their own disposition and temperament!

And Ellen, Hugs. :)


Jon said...

Raising our family with you has been the source of my highest joy. Nothing else compares.


Kansas Bob said...

Thanks Julie for the clarification.

r. michael.. I am wondering about your statement concerning the heavy price men like Andy and Tony pay.. the reality is that there are no guarantees in life.. especially when it comes to teenagers. Some teens can seem to effortlessly make their way through life regardless of the circumstances.. others just seem to struggle more.. even when their parents are doing the best they know how to do.

Always good to remember that life for men like Andy's sons is just beginning.. things can change and life can turn out pretty great for them in the long run. I have worked with several guys in prison that turned their lives around and are doing better today.

r. michael said...


Sorry if this came off as judgmental but the point I was trying to make is that the choices we make as parents profoundly affect our children...again it is not the only factor that goes into their assimilation as positive contributors in our society but it should not be minimized either.

I am not convinced that being the head coach of an NFL team is compatible with good parenting...I know that is a judgment on my part...but just my opinion on the matter.

Thanks for the feedback.

mariam said...

I always say you should wait until the kids are 40 to evaluate the skills of their parents. That still gives me some time!

When my children were pre-teens they seemed perfect. They were at the tops of their classes, they were both healthy, athletic, musical, polite and helpful. Sometimes people would just walk up to them out of the blue and give them money because they were so polite. Every report card coming home was stellar. I was frequently congratulated on my parenting (and congratulated myself at times, I confess). I gave up a lot in the way of "personal and career development" to spend time being a Mom.

Then we were blindsided by my daughter's illness and discovering she had been sexually abused by a good friend. My daughter still struggles mightily and her health (both physical and mental) is very compromised. I've lowered my expectations to everyday that she is alive and not in hospital is a good day. My son is a somewhat angry young man who flips the bird at authority almost every chance he gets. He is a rebel without a cause and even though he is a talented kid with good grades and fairly popular he walks through life like a volcano ready to erupt. Everyday that goes by that I don't get a call from a teacher is a good day. And each day in my prayer I give thanks for the things that I do have now - an intact and supportive marriage; two kids who don't take drugs (pot doesn't really count in Vancouver;), are loving towards each other and us and are not in trouble with the law; the support of a loving extended family.

I was looking at family photos the other night and could barely remember how things used to be - this careening near the cliff edge has been going on so long now. I have to remind myself that it's so much better than it was 2-3 years ago, but it is hard to think about how our expectations for our kids have been disappointed.

At the same time, because of what has happened to us, other parents have often confided in me and I have been surprised by how many families, in spite of a veneer of success and togetherness, live lives of quiet desperation and worry.

I can look back and think about things I might have done differently (and I would have, knowing what I know now) but sometimes fate just doesn't cooperate. The only reason I am able to operate with some equamity is that I have turned things over to God.

Kansas Bob said...

Wow Mariam.. thank you so much for sharing your story.. I can so relate about how sickness can bring dysfunction into a home and how it can affect our children.

I agree with what you said about waiting until they are 40 and also about equanimity of giving things to God.. not that I am doing so well lately :(

Blessings, Bob