Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My kids

I have two children in college right now. Yes, I used to be married to their mother. We divorced when the children were still toddlers.

I have been very involved in raising my kids, even though they resided with their mother for most of the time. My philosophy of child rearing was to treat them with respect and let them explore the world. You might call this a "liberal" view of parenting (my kids know I am not very liberal when it comes to their schoolwork). My kids were raised without religion of any kind in their lives (my ex-wife left the LDS church shortly after our divorce).

My brother, on the other hand, is an authoritarian, true-believing Mormon. As you can imagine, his philosophy of child rearing differs from mine. He has been a by-the-book kind of father in the classic LDS mold.

The funny part of this story is when you look at outcomes. Both of my children are well-adjusted, high achievers. My son will soon graduate near the top of his class from a very prestigious Ivy League university. My daughter is in the engineering honors program at a state university and has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills with her peers. Both are doing extremely well by any standard. In fact, just describing them might make you think I'm bragging.

My brother's children, raised much more "righteously," have not been so fortunate. One of his sons had to leave BYU after his first year for academic reasons, took odd jobs and entered into an early marriage. His life today is pretty much going nowhere. He's not a bad kid, just lost. My brother's other children have had behavioral problems.

Granted, there are many reasons besides parenting styles for these outcomes. But, if the situation had been reversed and it were my children with the troubled lives, many would point to me and pass judgment. I think the high achievement and positive attitudes of my children gall my brother and some of the more devout members of the family.

That's the nature of prejudice. It overlooks accomplishments and emphasizes faults. It's inherently biased; it hopes for failure. What a waste of energy!

6 comments:

Beck said...

I'm sure you are a great father! I admire your commitment to your children. It says a lot about you as a person. Obviously, they have benefitted from your love and parenting skills.

From my observations of children raised liberally or "righteously", a lot has to do with the children themselves. Both parenting systems can be very successful with wonderful results. They also can equally have mixed results (even within the same family). I wouldn't judge parenting techniques based solely on you and your brother. The inherent uniqueness of each child has much to do with it as well...

Thanks for your voice in this blog community.

Scot said...

Congratulations on the graduation!

If there’s one thing I have learned from having twins it’s that a lot of their personality comes with them, impervious to most attempts to mold it :-). If they are shy, you work with shy; if they are bold, you work with bold. Trying to force their personality instead of cultivating a great relationship, I think, is a mistake of many of the more imposing philosophies of child rearing.

Lastly, man, do I ever know what you’re talking about in bias. I sometimes feel I have to watch myself for my paranoia. I sometimes think everyone blames the slightest outburst from our kids on our family. But what’s funny is that it’s typically when we’re having the most trouble with their behavior, say, in a restaurant, when some woman comes up to us and compliments them and us on their behavior :-).

Chris said...

Congratulations on raising outstanding children.

I spend a lot of time worrying about my two girls, who are 8 and 4. Since I came out and their mom and I split up, we've had to work hard to make our family work, but I go to bed each night feeling like I'm actually a more engaged father than I was before I came out and when I was still married. This is true even now even though they live in Utah with their mom.

I love being a dad. More than anything.

MoHoHawaii said...

Congratulations to you, Chris, for working hard and staying engaged with your daughters. I did the long-distance parenting thing too. It's hard (and expensive because of travel costs), but it's worth it.

I hope you keep blogging, even if it's not a "coming out" kind of blog. Voices like yours need to be heard.

Chris said...

MHH:

I'm running out of things to say! I might start another blog, or I might start writing with a friend of mine (you know who you are) on these kinds of issues. We shall see. Thanks for the encouraging words!

MoHoHawaii said...

I like the idea of a group blog. Could I join in?