My parents are great. Loving, affirming, invested, they were great. Not perfect though. They were still annoying, out of touch, awkward and all those things that good parents are required to be by some strange law of nature.
Take for instance my dad. Dad doesn’t go to movies, but he likes to watch them at home. Usually, that meant that we kids were exposed to movies long before they came out on VHS (yes, those were the days). As a teenager, I consistently remember my dad asking us whether or not he should see a movie.
Think about it. Normally, parents are advising their kids on what movies they should or should not see. Here I was, a 15 year old kid, advising my dad on whether or not he should see a movie.
I was sharing this story with a friend today and when I realized what my dad had been doing, I called him up on the way home and asked him:
“Dad, was that on purpose or just accidental?” It was accidental he assured me. I’m going to make it intentional.
Just telling us, or even advising us, on the correct choices would never had helped us grow our moral and character choices. But by putting his trust in our choices, he actually did two things.
First, he trusted us to make good decisions with our media choices. That’s the top level.
But the accidental genius was forcing us to make moral choices for him that would reflect the values he had taught us. By placing his choices into our hands, he empowered us in an entirely different way. We had to be able to make decisions not based upon our friends’ value systems, or the value system the school taught us (we watched most movies on buses headed to sport’s competitions), but upon the values that dad held, and hoped that we would as well. If we made poor choices, he would “suffer” the consequences.
We were now the guardians of our parents. Not only were we responsible for our own choices, but we were resposbible for their choices too.
Totally accidental. But something I’m adding to my intentional mix.
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