Houston Tucker is Director of Consumer Outreach for K12. A father of four, he and his wife have home educated their children for the past ten years and have used the K12 curriculum since it launched in 2001. Their oldest is a rising sophomore in the private, worldwide K12 International Academy and their other children are home educated with the K12 curriculum. You can find more blogs from Houston at the K12 Think Tank12 blog as well as other educational blogs from K12 experts.
Harry Chapin’s 1974 hit “The Cat’s in the Cradle” can be a haunting song for all of us dads. The song is told in the first-person format about a father who is too busy to spend time with his son. As the son grows up he repeatedly asks for his father to pay him some attention but to no avail.
Then, as the song reaches its crescendo, we find out that when the son is all grown up, the father realizes that his son has turned out to be just like him.
I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
Dads, our greatest impact in life, our greatest legacy will be our children and what they become. Let me encourage us all to “make” the time for our children, not just “find” it. And, in doing so, I believe we will find that our children are actually not like us.
So, how do we do this?
1. Learn who our children are: Dads, this takes time. It is an investment into learning who our children are – what are their interests? Their passions? Their dreams? Their bents?
2. Accept who our children are: Unlike the song, “The Cat’s in the Cradle,” I believe that our children are really not like us. They may share our values, even have similar interests, but they are their own individual persons. They will do things differently than we would do them. They will make decisions in a different way than we do. They will even have interests and dreams that scare us. But, the decision is ours to make – will we try to mold them into what we think they should look like or will we help them chart their own course?
3. Let our children be who they are, even encourage it: There was a young man once who had a dream to sail solo around the world. Each person he told this dream to shared with him all of the risks involved and the potential for harm, even death. “You will never make it.” “I would never do anything like that.” “Why don’t you do something less risky?” He was undeterred though. So, one day he set out and headed down to the beach to begin his journey. Nearby his point of departure stood a little girl watching him intently. Eventually, she asked him what he was doing. “I am going to sail solo around the world,” he replied. She answered, “Cool. I hope you make it!” And with that, he sailed out into the ocean.
Dads, too many people will try to bring our children down and keep them from soaring. Let us be the ones who stand on the shore and encourage our children to set sail and chart their own course. In doing so, when we “hang up the phone” it will occur to us that our children have grown up to be just like they should be.