Monday, April 06, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Parenting, Part I

My three children currently range in age from 20 – 29. Sarah - my wife and their mother - and I have been married for 31 years and we are both 56. When I reached the age of 50 I began thinking in terms of ‘years I had left’ based on the average longevity of males in my family, a general assessment of lifestyles in America and a hideous conversation I once had with an insurance man while looking over actuary charts and my life insurance policy. All of this made me cease my mental projections and get back to living.
In my adult life two responsibilities have appropriately consumed most of my time, energy and resources: trying to be a loving spouse and an involved father. Although I have not failed I could have done much better – and I still have a shot. After all, the average lifespan of a man in my family is 63. (We are related to Sir Walter Raleigh – not by blood, by tobacco.)
So I wish to cull some wisdom from my good moments and share some knowledge about being a dad.
When your children are at the age of ballet lessons, recitals, Little League and recreational soccer do not plan golf games on Saturday mornings.
If you name a child Thelonius do not be surprised if they choose to become a jazz musician.
Your child will be left out of a sleep over. This is not the end-of-the-world.
Your child will forget something important. So will you.
Parent-teacher conferences should happen every day.
Parent-teacher conferences always include something astonishing.
The most important papers you have to send back to school with your signature will contain stains from your kitchen – most likely French dressing or olive oil.
Do not chastise or spank another family’s child even if they brought a pack of Winston’s to the 5th grade cookout at your house.
Your child may not be an athlete.
Your child may not be a musician.
Help your precious ones find their calling.
Sleeping until 1:00 PM on Saturday is not necessarily laziness. It may be exhaustion. They will wake up and love you.
Yes, we would love them to be our friends. But we are their parents – we are not their friends. You need to figure out what that means – it’s terribly important.
The exhaustion of running your young children from this activity to the next pales in comparison to the needs of young adult children.
Buy cheap used cars when your children turn 16. And insurance.
Point them to God. Let them see you praying or reading a Bible.
Hug and kiss them to Kingdom Come. Love them into Life.


Blogger Matthew said...


I am 37 with 4 children the oldest 10 years old. I have spent the last 10 years trying to provide a nice home for them or at least that has been the excuse for my professional ambitions and constant travel. The recent realization that my oldest is more than half way through her time at home has been something very difficult to deal with as it seems as though she had just barely come into our lives and even shorter time, she will be off to college. I greatly needed your post and appreciate you sharing these things. Thank You

April 9, 2009 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Thom Schuyler said...

Thanks Matthew. I have little doubt that you're doing the right things. Be well!

April 9, 2009 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

My son and only child that I am aware of, has been my finest accomplsihment...I need not do anything more. He tought me too spell


April 15, 2009 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Greetings from England.
What wisdom - thanks!
I have four sons between 17 and 26 -all of them at different stages of life and I want to be there for them whenever
My own dad died aged 58 when I was 17 so I am grateful still to here ALSO I am grateful to have found YOU as I discovered "Talk To My Old Man" thanks to American Songwriter Magazine
My two oldest sons stopped going to church after they left home but I simply keep praying for them -it's the best and, perhaps, the only way
Oh BTW as an Irish born Englishman I still love the USA!
God Bless you and yours - loved looking round the site. It was like being invited home!

April 27, 2009 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Thom Schuyler said...

Andrew - I very much appreciate your comments here. Kind of you to share your thoughts. All we can do is plant the seeds with these sweet kids and I think it's then up to God to woo them back.
Ireland is my favorite place on earth! Did you ever live there?

April 29, 2009 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Sadly I only lived in Ireland for 5 years before the family uprooted to England as Dad was looking for work
We lived hand to mouth for a while - I remember mum crying one Christmas Eve because we had a notice from the landlord to get out (by then there 5 kids including a baby!) Real Charles Dickens' London stuff but totally true
Anyway I reckon my Irish connections gave me my love of music which is why for years I had a record store in London (now online) and tried to help artistes get records and CDS released. It was certainly never the profits -
Thanks to a wife good with financial acumen we have managed to thrive and survive and our kids are a testament to her ( and a lot of time spent in prayer!) I strayed from the faith as a teen until my 30s and it was my mother's prayers that saved me so I agree with your comment there
Thanks for listening
PS have you ever played in Ireland or England. I met Rivers Rutherford a year or so back. He gave a songwriting class in Manchester and the did a great gig

April 29, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

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