Sometimes the universe just gives us some signals.
After getting home from the gym, I headed to my basement lair to start editing some of the photos I took of Jessica’s cousin earlier in the week. After spending a couple hours on one of the edits, I came up for air and found Jessica chilling in the sun porch with the dogs on her lap. I turn on the TV and a movie is starting. The opening credits tell me is called Everybody’s Fine. I see Robert De Niro in the beginning sequences so I start watching; mainly because I was trying to figure out if I saw it before. Once it starts rolling I was hooked.
The whole premise of the movie is that De Niro, a newly widowed husband asked his four grown children, living all across the United States, to come visit him for a family dinner. All four of them blow him off so he plans to surprise them all at their homes. All his children achieved great levels of success in their professions and when he surprises them, they are too busy to spend time with him pushing him off onto the next sibling. The secondary reason for them brushing him aside is one of his children has a drug problem and was arrested in Mexico. Long story short, the son arrested in Mexico dies of a drug overdose. De Niro, a blue collar laborer who made the PVC coating for high power transmission wires, always pushed his children hard to be successful. And although they all achieve success in their own fields, they also had “secret problems” that they kept from their father. The son who died of the drug overdose was the one who was pushed the hardest by his father. The movie lets you assume that the pushing of De Niro on his son is what lead to his drug addiction and ultimate death.
The thing about the movie that got be so wrapped up, was the fact that it was basically a movie about my thoughts and blog posts of recent. It summed up the Semler terminal days and the thoughts about what my job as parent will be. Here was a guy looking for some meager time with his kids but they were all too busy for him. The disappointment he showed was heartbreaking. What if that were his or their last day on earth? Would they have act differently? Are we aware of the people we may push away in our everyday life to live a certain way or to achieve things that may not ultimately matter?
From a parenting perspective, you can sympathize with De Niro for wanted to push his children to be highly successful and their best selves, but he did it at a cost of their happiness. Yes I think we need to continually push and motivate our children to be the best they can be, but we need to do it from their perspective. We need to find what is it they enjoy, what they are gifted at, and what motivates them to push them. And to push them to the point they are comfortable, or maybe a slightly higher level, but never to the extreme. Motivating them doesn’t need to be a constant, consistent input either. Let them spread their wings. Find out where their internal motivations lie and push from their. They may enjoy something so much, their own drive pushes them to higher levels of success and they will only require random check ins from you. And if they get to a point of laziness, you can push or motivate to spark a renewed interest, but if they reached a point of laziness it may be time to help guide them to another area of interest. Every person is different and every child is different. I guess that parenting. You can’t practice it. You roll with the punches and you continually evaluate. Of course you’ll make mistakes but if you stay aware you can correct and move forward.
Parenting seems stressful already, but I’m ready for the challenge. I’m going to parent the shit out of my kid 🙂