I may be a little late to the game, but my fiancé and I are in serious talks about trying to have a child soon. I’m 35, and most of my friends already have kids. My few friends that don’t have children yet are probably going to be lifelong bachelors. I gotta say, I think I am ready. It is something that I have been thinking about more and more over the last couple of years. One of the benefits of being a teacher is that, over the last 11 years, I have had the privilege of meeting many parents. These parents have given me insight on what to do, and in some cases, what not to do.
One thing I have learned is support for your child has nothing to do with money. I am not saying that your kids don’t need food, clothing, and shelter, what I am saying is you do not need to be wealthy to be a good parent. Some of the parents in my school district are barely getting by. But, they email teachers often, keeping up with their child’s grades and how they are doing in general. They are at every extracurricular activity, behind their children in losses just as much as in the wins. On the other hand, some seem to think that buying your child the most expensive phone, designer bookbags, and going on trips to exotic places is what it is all about. These are not bad things. If you have the means to do these things and you want to, do it. However, in some of these cases, it seems that the parents are more worried about their children being popular than growing intellectually and socially. Being popular is not a bad thing. You can use it for a lot of good. But I hope my main worry about my child is not how popular they are, but how good of a person they are, and how hard of a worker they are.
I also see both good and bad on the ballfield. I coach baseball, and I have met great parents over the years. Showing up to as many games as possible and cheering your kid on means more to them than I think they even realize at the time. That being said, some parents do their children more harm than good at these games. Supporting your child does not mean bashing another. It does not mean swearing at umpires, refs, and coaches when you feel a call didn’t go your way, or your child isn’t getting enough playing time. I have been coaching for 15 years, and I can say this without reservation, I have never not played a kid because I did not like them or had it out for them. I hear parents accuse coaches of this a lot. It is simply not true. Coaches play the kids that give the team the best chance of winning.
One final thing I have learned, failure is ok. In fact, you learn more from failure than success in many cases. This can be on the field or in the classroom. Parents are never happy when their children lose. But what helps more, yelling at a kid when he strikes out, or supporting him even if it means going over what they can do to improve? I have seen players literally being afraid of losing because of what their parents will do to them.
I know I will not be a perfect parent. No one is. But, I know I will do the best I can. My parents have given me lessons over my 35 years that I hope to pass on to my children. But I am also thankful to the parents of the students that I have taught over the years. Without realizing it, I have observed them, both the good and bad, and they have given me a perspective of parenthood, both good and bad, that I am truly indebted to them for.