I have spent the last 18 years wondering whether I am being a good father and if my (only) son will learn all the lessons I want him to make him a "better person" (whatever that means). The dilemma is that who knows what is right/good/beneficial etc etc. This wisdom always seemed beyond my reach but I know now that it does not exist. The lesson all parents should learn is YOU CAN ONLY DO WHAT YOU THINK IS BEST AT THE TIME! (hereinafter known as "the Law")
And what has brought me to this conclusion?
My son J is handsome, sensitive but strong, smart (but not academically so), streetwise and ambitious. I have spent his secondary schooling years prodding and pushing him to "do better" "try harder" and warning him that "he'll regret not taking the opportunity to learn and acheive" - yes I sound like - well not my father as he wasn't around for me, but your stereotypical parent sounding like their parent before them etc.
He's spent the last two years in the 6th form after not great but adequate GCSE results, he's had a brilliant time; went to New York and other slightly less impressive but still recreational rather than educational trips; he's learnt to drive; found out about girls; plays a lot of sport etc etc (with me so far - he's a fairly typical young male).
This week he got his A level results and let's just say they are not great. BUT he did the courses; he learnt the lessons; he knows more about himself than he did before. AND HE'S HAD A GREAT TIME! yes I went through the worry of "what's he going to do?" "what's next?" more courses? colleges? is he branded as he isn't interested in uni?"
Here's the kicker that proves the LAW.
He decided that he wanted to become an estate agent. He prepared a CV and visited about 50 firms in the area; got 15 or so replies; followed up on every letter; had one interview and a number of informal "chats". Last month he landed a job at a well reputed local firm by working for them free for two weeks. They offered him a permanent post and he joined two weeks ago. The basic is small and the incentives tempting. he's just been paid and has reaped the rewards from his efforts over the last 14 days. The lesson learnt is you get out what you put in.
The lesson for me is CHILL OUT! He's a good lad; never caused us any serious aggro; he cares for us and others and isn't afraid to show it; he's good to his mother as they used to say. So when asked I won't be short in telling people how proud I am of him, what he's acheived and how he is. I'd like to think I had a part in making it that way and I can be proud of myself for that too.
There is no right way to do this - you can only look at the current results and congratulate yourself and not with a begrudging " it could be worse"
(from August 2006)