Boys' Rites of Passage

Our Sons' Futures

Fear and Preparation

Posted by Thomas on November 24, 2009

Before you continue:

This post has 567 words.

On average it takes less than 4 minutes to read entirely.

I recently read an article written to parents that said “You know nothing!” Those words branded my brain like ironing your linen pants after putting them on. Glynne entered the 11th grade this school year. People that know our family comment “you’re doing a good job raising that young man.” I cringe when I hear it because: I know nothing.

I admit my shortcomings. I’ve never wanted to paint myself as a superhero father. I’ve always felt Glynne is best served knowing I’m flawed and imperfect; thus his flaws and imperfections won’t be the end of him either. He knows of my philandering days. He knows of my non-committed years. He knows of my alcohol abuse and drug experimentation. He knows of my devotion, disappointment, and depression—and many things in between. I genuinely appreciated my father never sugar-coating discussions—he was deeply flawed. I do not sugar down talks either.

A small example of what I mean. When he was younger and came home with math homework (my absolute weakest subject during my own schooling) I admitted my ignorance and got him the help he needed. I felt good about that choice.

Here’s another example:

Him: “Pop what’s the best pick-up line you’ve ever used on a girl?”

Me: “I hated dating. A big part of me has always done better in a committed relationship. I have no pick up lines. In fact, if I would have tried, girls (for the younger me)/women (for the older me) would have rolled their eyes, twisted their heads, sucked their teeth, gave me their hand and walked away mumbling “he’s such a scrub!”

Him: “Pop what did you want to do after high school?”

Me: “I wanted to drop out my senior year and told my family I would move to some place like Costa Rica; live on the beach; support myself selling beach chairs and coconuts. I was clueless—had no real plans for the future.”

My point folks: we want the best for our children but part of making that happen is recognizing, honestly, that the things we now ask of them may not have been our choices as young adults.

Now, my ignorance may cause him more than a bad grade on an assignment or not getting a girl. I’m not a poker player but this is high stakes.  

The unknowns

What does the future hold?

I know this: there are world happenings that I don’t understand. Even “experts” aren’t sure how things will wind up. I’m ignorant about what’s coming. I can get him ready for math despite my ignorance by aligning him with someone good in the subject. I can tell him of my rejections by girls and from that he’ll learn. I can even successfully argue selling beach chairs and coconuts will not afford the lifestyle he wants for himself. I cannot, as much as I desire to, tell him what to expect in the world 10-20-30 years from now (shoot, 5 years!!).

That frightens me. There once was a formula to follow. The rules, all of them, have changed.

Some reading this may say: “what about hope; faith; trust—that all will be okay?” My answer: those things are in place but real-is-real. So, as a parent the best advice I can offer some times to my now-teenage-soon-to-be-adult son is—PREPARE. With all that you have PREPARE.

Preparation, even with finite information, is better than no preparation at all.


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