... my father, who taught me to be a gentleman, taught me to make candles and pancakes, taught me to love literature and music ...
The quote above, from Rich's post about his dad, really got me thinking. Did his dad actively teach him to be a gentleman? Or was Rich just an astute observer of his father's behaviour? If the former, how did that work? What lessons were imparted, and in what kind of an order, to ensure that the young Rich grew into a respectful, honest man?

Without a doubt his father succeeded: Rich is one of the nicest, most sincere and sophisticated men I know. I am honored to call him a friend, and I admire his dedication to his own family. Rich's dad must be very proud.

This line of inquiry led me to ponder the lessons I'm giving -- intentionally and otherwise -- to my children. Certainly I try to provide a positive role model. I'm honest with them, and try to demonstrate how to be honest and forthright toward others. I try to encourage them to be patient and gracious, which is no easy task for hormonal teenagers. I try to listen to them, and to withhold judgement, and to make it clear that I'm here to help and support them in whatever ways they need.

I want them to grow up to be capable, self-sufficient adults. I try to challenge them, and push them to push themselves. I've made it clear that I have high expectations of them, but I'm confident that these expectations are not unattainable.

I have no formal plan for teaching respect and dignity to the kids, though. Did Rich's dad have a formal plan, or was it just his nature to nurture these traits in his children?

And all of this has me thinking also about my own father. He certainly set a positive example for me, but I don't know that I ever really paid it much attention before now. Did he have a plan for my upbringing? Or did he simply wing it, as I've mostly been doing?

I want the kids to enjoy their youth. I don't want to burden them with social obligations or put them through some kind of arbitrary finishing school. I want them to explore, and make mistakes, and learn and grow and evolve. I want to establish a safe framework for all of these things, and to provide a gentle guiding hand along the way.

I wonder how Rich's dad did all of this ...


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