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Dad the Influencer

November 20, 2008

I am never far away from understanding the influence my life has in the lives of others – especially as a Dad.  In my role as a community leader, I am charged with being a person of influence.  But that is work.  Work in the sense of being paid, but also in that I need to be intentional.  As a Dad, whether I’m intentional, or not, I have influence over my kids.

I’d like to think that I can continue my Peter Pan fairy tale and live a life of selfish immaturity.  I fantasize about my kids ignoring my dysfunctions and moving past my stunted growth, without me having to face those demons personally.  My grandfather didn’t slay these dragons, my father has been unsuccessful, thus far, and the battle still rages large in my own backyard.

If I go to my grave, with the beasts of still raging, then I’ve passed on a terrible inheritance to my kids.  Most parents I know, would readily die for their children.  I’m not different.  Step in front of a bus? No problem.  Take a bullet?  No hesitation.  So, why won’t I throw myself in front of the runaway train of fear, addiction, and lack of discipline in my life?

Yesterday, while working at Starbuck’s, I saw a young dad come in with his preschool son.  The dad was enamored with the boy.  He walked with his chest out and couldn’t take his eyes off the kid.  The family sat down for their Starbuck’s treats – the boy had nice cup of hot chocolate.  But in a few moments the dad began to encourage the kid to go outside.  The boy didn’t want to.

I was struck with the thought that the father wanted to smoke, but why would the boy want to go outside?  It was a cool and grey day out there and the fun of this outing was being in Starbucks with his mommy and daddy.  Sure enough, dad was able to convince his son to go outside.  While mommy and the boy huddled against the cold and the noise of the highway, dad lit up a cigarette.

It made me mad.  Did this guy know the influence he was having on his son?  Did he know that his son was more likely to smoke, because his dad does?  Did he care?  Or was it about his own selfish desire to indulge his habit – his addiction?

That’s what got me to thinking about myself.  What habits am I passing on to my kids?  What habits have been handed down for generations?  Can they stop here?  Can I help my children live a more abundant life?

I may be willing to give my life for them, but am I willing to sacrifice a few selfish indulgences?

UPDATE (11.20.2008)

This Aricle, in Newsweek supports the above opinion.  My wife sent it to me this evening.  Enjoy:

THE SPECTRUM

Like Parent, Like Child

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2 Comments
  1. November 20, 2008 11:07 pm

    That’s awesome that you want to be a responsible parent, and it’s a better reason than any to give up those bad habits anyhow. Basically all the adults in my family smoke, and I am proud of the fact that I have been able to recognize that it isn’t a good idea and avoid doing it. But, I’ve always hated that they smoke and continue to tell them in the hopes that someday they will quit.

    I’m a fairly recent college graduate and I’ve really noticed a huge change in my dynamic with my parents since I moved back to the state in the Spring. I used to idealize them a lot more as a child, and it is a really odd phenomenon to recognize their faults and accept and love them for the people they truly are. In some ways I miss the idealized image, but I think I am developing a much deeper relationship with them now, so I do appreciate this change.

  2. November 21, 2008 3:52 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Kimberly. Its great that you were able to avoid the smoking kick, despite the influence of your parents. I have close friends who had alcoholic parents, and they made the choice to avoid alcohol all together, just to avoid the addiction.

    I hope my kids are as thoughtful as you when they are young adults!

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