Here’s where I got the idea I’m about to rip off.
There has been an argument in my brain the last few months about what to teach my kids. I want them to experience their own journey and learn what they need to on their own. A lot of parents are like that these days. They have an enormous amount of self doubt about religion and morality and they aren’t sure if they are the best resource for a child to use.
The problem is, that is, in itself, influencing them.
Your kids learn from you and no matter what happens, they will be influenced. You can’t stop it. Unless you live in a bubble and never speak to the, your kids will get a pretty accurate idea of the things you treasure. We want our kids to live free of our screw-ups and failures but they are human. We are supposed to influence them. What we do is try to be honest. No matter what comes out of your mouth, it is slanted toward your own belief system. So, do you believe in your crap or don’t you?
My kids know I do not subscribe to religion at all. I never had a meeting. They just know. They know that their mother never had a subscription and that mine lapsed when I was about 12 or so. There’s no harm in that. It is the truth. But I can’t hide it from them, no matter what I do.
So I use the influence to teach them respect and tolerance. I believe that friendship and kindness to your fellow man, especially your loved ones, trumps everything. It is bigger than competition, money, drive, will and even religion. So it goes: “Believe what you want, but don’ be a prick to anyone who believes otherwise.”
Even the little things are an issue with me. My sons are getting into movies and TV and music now and they basically like all the things I like. I don’t mandate that; they just are using me as a starting point. There is a reason I have shelves full of books and 400 CD and records. I want them to explore and have a nice base to jump off from. They are starting to weed through the collection and poop on this and that. It’s what they are supposed to do. I just served as kindling for their intellect. Not a bad gig.
Years ago, the father would dictate the lives of his kids. The jobs, the school, the address and how he spoke and carried themselves in public. We are now a society that doesn’t mind individualism. It’s nice to think you are unique, even for a short period of time. Soon enough we all learn that everyone has the same problems and our ideas aren’t all that new or interesting or poignant. Getting there is what enables us to crawl out of bed in the morning. It is the hope that one day we will figure all this dumb shit out.
Here is the big difference between Eric’s story with his little Drew in the backseat and my conversations with my kids versus the typical scenarios when we were little boys: If we opened our mouths in the car about God, the metric system, whether Mello Yello was a good beverage or if Keith Moon was the best drummer, we would get something along the lines of: Shut the hell up back there, I’m trying to drive.
Difference? We listen.