34 of 100 Dads – The Day-to-Day

Steve is Dad to my second favorite teenager, a sweet boy named Lucas (June 26, 1991 – April 8, 2012). Lucas was a best friend to my son Michael. He had a twinkle in his eye a, a spring in his step and always a minute or two for Michael’s Mom. I enjoyed each minute we shared.

I was very happy Steve was willing to participate in 100 Dads. I knew his doing so would allow me to think and write, about his wonderful and unforgettable little boy. I’m some small way now Lucas’s memory can live in my writing and not only in my heart. 💞

Steve acknowledged both sides of parenting. He identified the uniqueness in each family as he mentioned the struggles in his own. In navigating life through separation, divorce, co-parenting and single parenting Steve recalls the magic in the day-to-day. He summarizes, “Getting meals, making lunches, day cares, homework and going to work myself, it wasn’t easy, but they were the best yeas of my life.

It was great learning more about Steve’s parenting philosophies and practices. It was clear to see his son Lucas shared Steve’s values of hard work and also enjoyed building skills. It’s understandable he and Michael were friends as Steve, and I held a lot of similar parenting values.

Steve, “Get them involved in their own lives. Help them to handle the day-to-day. If the dentist calls to remind of an appointment, get the child to call back to verify. Doing these things will help to get rid of shyness and creates confidence. Let them know hey are in control of their lives.” Tip 4

Reading Steve’s fourth tip brought to mind a number of scenes in own my parenting. I too worked to ensure Michael was involved in his own life. I knew it was important he learn the skills required to manage his own affairs. Independence was always the goal.

The first scene I recall, I was assisting Michael in ordering from the Sears Catalogue (such a dated reference). He was about five. I vividly remember this little boy holding the receiver (also a dated reference), it was bigger than his head. I coached him through the script, feeding him each sentence line by line.

He ended that call and said, “Mom I was too young to do all that.” He was right. I started some of these things a little too early.

The second scene, I remember sending Michael to the register to pay for an item. I knew didn’t factor in tax.

I allowed him to check-out although he was short on cash. My Mom was pissed. She happened to be there and was not pleased witnessing this teachable moment. She felt he was too young. She was right. I again started too early.

Next scene, I remember bringing a concern to Michael and asking his opinion. He was six years old. He said, “Mom, that’s too big a decision for a kid.” He was right.

I replied, “You’re right, but it’s too big for me to make without our opinion.” He agreed, gave it a great deal of thought and then gave me his response.

Admittedly, I was too early with much of my teachings. I was in an unnecessary rush with a false sense of urgency. That said, I still think it’s important to start early, really early.

Parents do need to balance the likelihood of success with ensuring not setting their kids up for failure, but rather preparing for challenges. The guidance, planning, scripting, coaching, line-feeding, support and debrief should all be a part of the process. We should be working to build skills and develop them further at every opportunity. Our window of influence is small, tiny.

Making and confirming appointment is a great place to start. Michael gained confidence with each call and every decision. He witnessed his own comfort level grow as his abilities improved. He was always so proud to handle his own business.

By age ten, Michael was meeting with the bank and the doctor independently. He managed his homework, responsibilities and his chores. Michael had his life in order in his early teens. He rarely needed any interruptions from us.

Maybe I started a little early or, maybe not. Fortunately, we both found independence in the nick-of-time, albeit a little ahead of schedule – even considering my tight timelines.

Thanks Steven for your participation. Know Lucas will always be lovingly remembered in our family, and by all who knew him.

Much love.

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