My Two Secrets As A Parent

baba & boys

As I reminisce about my childhood, I realize that, like most children, I was genuinely motivated by an overwhelming desire to please my parents.  Hearing “I love you” certainly meant a lot to me; however, to be completely frank, I never doubted their love for me: they consistently prioritized me and my siblings above themselves, something you would only do for someone you truly love.

What, then, was I seeking to hear even more than “I love you”?  I think, like many children, I really wanted to know that they felt their love and support was generating the outcome they were hoping for and, therefore, I was really seeking the most coveted of praises a son or daughter could receive from their parent: “I’m proud of you”.  Hearing those words somehow made everything better and made me feel invincible.

So what’s the big secret?  What is it that I only realized now that I’m a forty-something about “I’m proud of you”?  There are two epiphanies for me:

1. I might be a parent myself, but I never seem to outgrow the need and desire to hear those words from my parents.  In fact, if anything, I think they’re even more meaningful to me now than ever before.  After all, “I’m proud of you” at this point represents a much larger set of decisions and achievements than when I was merely ten or eleven years old.  I now realize that I will always need those words to motivate me; I’m forever driven to make my parents proud.

2. I recently decided to do something completely out-of-the-ordinary for me.  Having never played American football, as a child or otherwise, I formed an adult flag football team on a whim.  Whats more, many of my friends declined the offer citing that it’s well-known people our age hurt their knees, Achilles, and a myriad of other body parts resulting from throwing twelve men on a field and telling them there’s a score :-).  I was lying in bed considering what in the world had motivated me to do this.  Was it that I wanted to hang out with my friends and this was a convenient excuse for us to get together?  Was it another middle-age crisis where I was trying to prove that I’m not too old to compete?  No, it really wasn’t either of those things.  Instead, I realized that it was motivated by something much simpler: my children.

My two crazy boys.

My two crazy boys.

My two sons had recently taken a liking to the sport of flag football and currently play it in a local children’s league.  I must admit, I’ve always felt a bit insecure about a sport I knew so little about.  I had started to learn more about it so as to be able to discuss the games with the boys.  But did I really join an adult league just to learn more about a sport I could’ve just watched on the couch like most men my age :-)?  What I wanted was to hear something.  Last night, I heard that something: after my second flag football game, my son told me how proud he was of me…and I was on cloud 9 all night.

Really?  Am I destined to be generationally-sandwiched between wanting to hear those words from both my parents and my children?  I’m afraid that answer, at least for me, is an emphatic yes.

More importantly, as a parent, I am more aware than ever of how important those words are for my own children.


My screen background.

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