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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