May 12, 2010

Mutual Respect

Before Lil Sippy Cup was born, I remember hearing all sorts of advice (both requested and unsolicited) about the hurdles and burdens of parenthood.

One of these pearls of wisdom concerned the distinction between being a "friend" and being a "parent".

While I will not let myself stand on any soapbox and preach to others about how to raise their children (clearly, after reading a sampling of my posts, I am not qualified to do so), I will say that I do not believe that being a "friend" and being a "parent" need to be mutually exclusive.

To me, as a father, I want to be my son's best-friend, his confidant, his secret source of information regarding the alien gender (a.k.a women).  At the same time, I do not want to be the guy furiously typing on a Sidekick, wearing baggy jeans and a bedazzled tee-shirt at his school functions. 

I have to distinguish myself from his friends so that he can respect me as his father.

While I know that it is difficult, I have to establish my role as his father, his provider and his protector and, unfortunately, this means that I will have to be the bad guy sometimes.

However, being the "bad guy" does not mean that he should be afraid of me.  If he is afraid of me, who is he going to turn to when his hooligan friends are trying to pressure him into doing something idiotic?  Or, just as likely, when he is the hooligan friend trying to pressure some other innocent kid?

The trick is learning how to raise another man who loves you and seeks your advice while simultaneously respecting you enough to listen to and follow the advice when it is given. 

The easiest way to accomplish this?  I need to respect him and love him just as much as he needs to respect me and love me.  

There will come a time, I am more than sure, when Lil Sippy Cup will challenge my status as the alpha male in the house, questioning curfews and other rules of style and decorum. 

But, in a strange way, I welcome this because, honestly, I am not raising a cadet, I am raising a man.

A man I will be proud to call my son. 

And a man that will know that I command the holy power of Mt. Olympus if I should ever catch him sneaking out of the house.

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