There are obviously a lot of important jobs. Being President of this country is important. Being the head of ANY country is important. Being the head of any THING is important. But they're not the most important job. The most important job is being a parent because you're training the next generation, the generation that will take over for you.
I raised my boys the same way I was raised and my wife did too. I didn't know what her childhood was like but I remembered mine as wonderful. I played catch in the back yard almost every day with my dad, my uncle or both. They never missed an athletic event I competed in, no matter how far they had to drive. We had meals every night at the dinner table where we talked about each other's day while we ate. We took wonderful trips. I was only 12 years old when I went to Mexico for the first time. My dad and uncle took me on a chartered train once from Tulsa to Kansas City to see the Yankees play what were then the Kansas City Athletics and we went to minor league games in Tulsa and Little Rock. Once the St. Louis Cardinals played an exhibition game in Tulsa in front of an overflow crowd and my dad dove into a gang of kids to come up with a foul ball to give to me. Another time I won 5000 green stamps for predicting the exact number of runs, hits, and errors scored by both teams in a minor league game in Tulsa and my dad was once again by my side. The whole family would pile in the car every Sunday afternoon for a two or three hour drive around the countryside and I enjoyed it as much as they did. My mom, grandmother and aunt were in the kitchen most of the time cooking the best food ever and the kitchen was always open if somebody wanted a sample or a taste.
Everything we did, we did as a family.
So when Linda and I had kids, we did the only thing we knew how to do. We raised them the same way we were raised. We always ate together as a family. We went to every contest and concert our boys were in, sometimes having to split up and take two cars in opposite directions.
We talked as a family, laughed as a family, and cried as a family. We took our boys to theme parks in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. We went to major league baseball games in Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and St. Louis and as many concerts as we could fit in our schedule. We had rules and consequences for breaking those rules and when the rules were broken, the consequences were applied. And because of that, our boys didn't blame us when they were punished, they blamed themselves for doing something they shouldn't have done. We didn't believe it was necessary to be friends with our children when they were growing up. We knew we would have plenty of time for that after they became adults. They needed leadership, guidance, love, and a strong hand when they were children, just like children have always needed.
But one thing has always been a constant when it comes to parenting. There are good parents and bad parents and I'm sure if I had had bad parents, I would have been a bad parent too because we are what we learn. We can't be things we haven't been exposed to. We can't know things we don't know. We learn to live in this world by modeling the behavior of those people closest to us so if they're good role models, the chances are greatly increased that we will be a good role model too. If we have bad role models, the opposite is likely to happen.
I've always judged my success on the success of my children. Did I provide them with the kind of home that was positive, loving, optimistic and life-affirming? Michael recently posted on Facebook after going through a two-day sickness with his step-daughter's baby that everything he did to comfort her and make her feel better he learned from me. Will wrote in his birthday card to me his gratitude for teaching him a love for sports and music which has stayed with him. He used to sit in my lap when he was still in diapers and watch a whole ball game with me without ever wanting to go do something else and he grew up in a home where music filled the air every day.
The point of this is that you don't have to take a test to be a parent. Anyone can be one and we have far too many who are becoming parents without any idea of HOW to be one because they didn't learn from positive role models when they were growing up. So no matter how hard we try as a society, we're always going to have bad parents and bad role models. We're always going to have parents who put their own desires ahead of their children's needs. We're always going to have parents who are bad examples by taking their children places they shouldn't go, talking about things their children shouldn't hear, and doing things their children shouldn't see. Because they will copy your behavior whether you want them to or not and they'll end up much more like you than unlike you.
And all you have to do is look around to know that's not always a good thing.