Dear Dad……

by Rod Smith

The Mercury

Dear Reader Dad:

Your laser focus upon your child will ultimately “sizzle” him (and you).

Not only that, it will probably sever (sizzle) the connection you so desperately desire with him.

The parenting you offer, so focused, so loud, so intentional, so present, I’d suggest, will backfire.

The closer you look at your son, his school, at every aspect of his life, and the more powerful your magnifying glass, the more you will fuel your own anxieties.

You may, as you say, have had a dad who was distant. I’d like to suggest that being too present has its own set of problems.

Back off. Please, back off, even if it is just a little. Try it. You may both like it.

No one can accommodate so much attention, and, when he is able, unless he is supremely unusual, he is very likely to be crushed at the thought of facing life on his own – or angry with you for trying to intercept his every opportunity for growth and discovery.

Sadly (and this is where my heart aches for you) he is unlikely to thank you for your efforts. If you are very lucky, very lucky, he’ll be filled with compassion for you.

Loving your son, and this is something I struggle with as well, is not the same as being constantly alert, anxious, and on guard. He won’t “get life” if you keep getting it for him. Part of loving him will require that you let him go, that you get out of his way, that you allow him to experiment and even to fail.

Your love is not proved in your ability to make his world safe, and sure, and filled with certainty. It is demonstrated as you prepare him for one that is none of those things.

Sincerely,

Rod

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