What Do I Owe You?
I have a lot of kids, and as one might expect, they think I owe them a lot of things. New school clothes, and even newer gym shoes. Money for going out with friends and for videos when they stay in with friends. Rides to everywhere, and cash for gas when they drive themselves. Today, I want to make it clear exactly what I owe my children.
I owe you the opportunity to be the person I am most interested in. I owe you not only the inquisition of “how was your day, what did you do, who did you see, when will you be home?”, but also the right to someone who is listening to your reply. Completely. Without a cell phone on the other ear. You are my priority.
I owe you the gift of good example. I’m not perfect, but I’ll never stop trying to be better. To make our family name something that is respectable – along with the expectation that you will live up to the reputation our name carries. I owe you the awareness that when you are out in the world you are always representing something bigger than yourself – you are a member of our family, a community, a nation, a sex, a race, a religion and that people will always judge. Be up to the scrutiny.
I owe you the chance to prove yourself. To be given opportunities and experiences where you will both succeed and fail. You will get full recognition for successes, and support and encouragement when you don’t. The list of expectations will grow along with you.
I owe you complete involvement in school. I should know every teacher’s name, every class you are taking and what your favorite subject is. I will attend conferences and meet the people that you report to daily. You will have the supplies you need and a quiet place for you to do your own work. And if you ask for it, as much direction and proof reading as you wish. I will help you achieve to your highest potential, not mine. I owe you the opportunity to succeed on your own merit. I will step back to let you figure out your unique place in the world.
I owe you my involvement in things you think are important. From your first role as a tree in the kindergarten play to your opening night on Broadway. From t-ball practice to the minor league ball games. I will be at every game or event possible to point out all that you did well. It’s the coach’s and teacher’s job to point out where the improvements need to come from. If you have an issue with someone of authority, talk to them directly, not through me.
I owe you the chance to see me involved in community work. I owe you the chance to make the world a better place along side me. Community service is not just something you do at church, during cub scouts or for extra credit at school. I will not let others be the teachers of the importance of doing good for the sake of doing good. It is my job to show you that everyone benefits by being fully involved in things that are important to them.
I will model how a good families work. Families come in all different varieties these days, but only two things are needed to make them work – love and respect for each other. Your dad and I owe you time together to see the power of relationships. Yes, that means we all go to your sister’s dance recital, your brother’s lacrosse game, your other sister’s science fair, your other brother’s first drum solo. It means that you will have people in your cheering section when it’s your turn in the spotlight and people to catch you when you fall.
My kids are right to assume that I owe them an insurmountable amount of something. I owe them everything I am made of, not everything I make.