Be a good parent

When I taught English and my students struggled with a topic, I would advise them to write about something that’s on their mind….something they care about. I have had one of the most powerful experiences of my life and have thought of nothing else since.

On Friday my grandfather was rushed to hospital and by evening, I joined my aunts, uncle, and cousins, as well as my brother and my Dad around his bedside for the Sacrament of the Sick. The priest commented on the number of family members and the fact that we knew the right responses to the prayers. I wondered how many people are as fortunate?  My Pa is 95.5 – he had nine kids, 12 grandkids, and 6 great-grandkids – so we all knew he had lived a great and long life.

As my brother and I said our goodbyes, he offered us advice.  Of all the things he could have said at that point in the hospital, he said this:  Be a good parent.

It was tough to understand him but that message was clear.

Now before I continue, I should add that when Kevin and I brought our kids to say their good-byes the next morning, he was sitting up in bed and greeted us with a twinkle in his eye.  He looked at Kathleen’s track pants and asked what “Aeropostal” meant.

His words have had impact and have me thinking.  What does it mean to be a good parent?

There’s no shortage of advice out there.  Right now three books come to mind:

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.

Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine.

Mindset by Carol Dweck.

I’m especially struck by Dweck’s good advice – to praise process not outcome.

To my knowledge, my grandfather didn’t read many parenting books.  But he drew on a deep well of wisdom and faith – and with nine kids in his small World War II bungalow, he got a lot of practice.  Thankfully, he has bounced back.  We’re enjoying the bonus time we have left together, and more opportunities to enjoy his company and reflect on that which is most important.

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