From As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII,
“All the world’s a stage.”I think that parents are some of the best actors in the world. I am thinking about a parent conference we had recently. The father was there. He was dressed impeccably. His shirt was clean and crisp. His tie was in good taste. He handed out business cards that showed he was an important executive in some company. He was relaxed and articulate. He had all the right answers and showed the correct facial expressions to exhibit his concern. The others in the group assured me that he was very involved in his daughter’s life and would be on top of things.
The question I am never allowed to ask is, “Then why are we having this meeting?”
He promised to e-mail me so we could be in contact. It took him a month. We set up a second meeting and he did not show. It took him a week to call and apologize. We have not had another meeting. Does he really care or is it just a role? Obviously I do not know all the issues. He might have an ex-wife that got a restraining order issued. He may have had a stroke.
He may also just be playing a role. His costume was perfect. His lines were flawless. He didn’t show up for the second act. He did nothing. Have you ever seen actors up close or without their make-up? It is scary. So are parents who are playing a role.
The problem is that they are so busy playing a role that they never understand the roles parents are supposed to play. Parents are not to be buddies and friends. They are not supposed to be liked or cool. They are supposed to be enforcers and adults. They are to be strong and consistent. They are to have rules and enforce those rules even if the rules make the child unhappy. It means investing the time necessary to instill important values, priorities and disciplines.
It doesn’t just mean talking about eating healthy. It means forcing them to eat their vegetables. That means that you have to prepare the vegetables and sit down to eat them with the child. It can take a long time to get a kid to eat a small portion of broccoli. It can eat into your time to work out at the gym or go to happy hour with your friends. It can reduce or eliminate the time you have to play golf or have your nails done.
It is a hard role, but someone has to do it. If you are a parent I must remind you that it is unlikely anyone else will step up and fill your shoes. If you are not a parent you might think about it seriously before you become one.
If you do it right, they grow up to be a joy and inspiration. If you don’t, the entire world will know what has gone on behind the curtain.
homo unius libri