Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who needs parents?

How much influence do parents really have on the lives of their children?  How big of a factor have your parents played in your life?

In our community education programs, we literally see all the different styles of parenting.  Through our Adult Basic Education (A.B.E.) program we see young adults who struggle in life because their parents never show them the value of determination, creativity, or hard work.  Instead, their parents show them how welfare works and how to blame others for their dire situation.   Its a vicious cycle that few are able to break. 

My father is one that broke that cycle.  The oldest of eight children, he and his siblings grew up in a humble three bedroom house under the rule of an alcoholic dad and a saint of a mother.  My grandmother did the best she could to provide sanity and love to her children.  Unfortunately love and sanity wasn't enough for all her children.  My grandmother's strength held the family together.  That strength, coupled with my father's desire for a better life, has provided me, my brothers, and my young children a different life. My father was able to break the chain of alcoholism, but the same can not be said for all his siblings.  Two years ago my dad's brother died, after many years of struggling with alcohol.  The choices Grandpa Warden made (grandpa also had an alcoholic father), in my mind, was the biggest factor in my uncle's death.  Today, the family does not talk much about my late grandfather.  Judging from the silence, that's probably a good thing.
On father's day this year, my mom told me I am at the age she was when she lost her father to cancer.  She recalled that her father was always there for her, supporting her.  No matter the circumstances, he was her rock.   My mother's childhood was much different than my fathers.  She looks back upon her youth and sees a hard working, supportive father with unconditional love.  Her face changes when she talks about her dad.  She misses him.  I look at my own daughter, and hope she remembers me, like my mom remembers grandpa Kaster.  That's motivation to be a better dad.   

Two fathers, two different families. 
Your impact on your children is huge. 
Of the men I admire:
John Wooden credits his success to his parents - (he mentioned his father often in his writings).
Colin Powell credits his success to his parents.
Seth Godin credits his success to his parents.
You get the point.  I could go on and on with a list of people who have done great things in their lives.  The one constant in the people above - they had parents who constantly supported them and told them they could accomplish their dreams.  Think about it...  if you always hear that you can accomplish your dreams, by the time you reach adulthood you'll believe it. 

If you struggle with how to raise your children right, the best advice I can give is to lead by example.  They already look up to you, undoubtedly they will follow in your footsteps.


  1. Touching Nathan....brings tears to my eyes

  2. Wonderful insight Nate, your children are very lucky!