Parents make the difference

Have you ever wondered why Father’s Day is six weeks after Mother’s Day? It took that long for a bunch of dudes to go, “Hey! Wait a minute!”

Welcome to the parent-honoring season. With 31 years of parenting experience, I must be qualified to advise parents. (Okay, I’m really not that old or that qualified; my kids’ ages just total 31.)

No topic generates more longing for a silver bullet than the topic of parenting. Unfortunately, no bullet exists. No particular act or activity will set a child on a trajectory toward prosperity, tranquility and harmony. Still, we think:

“If I can just get my kid into the right (fill in the blank), everything will work out.” (school, church group, sports team, after-school activity, friend group, relationship, hobby, college)

“If I can just get her before the right youth minister, coach, headmaster or tutor…”

“If I can just orchestrate the right tapestry of influences, experiences and knowledge…”

To quote a certain boy band of the 1960s, wouldn’t it be nice.

I once worked for a Dallas real estate executive who bumped into Beach Boys front-man Brian Wilson at a Grammys after party in 2001.

My gregarious boss quizzed Wilson on his very interesting life. My boss was not ready for Wilson’s reply: “I really just wish I had spent more time with my kids.”

For all the tutoring programs, radio ads promising behavior modification by Friday and enrichment opportunities that keep moms and dads and kids on the move, I am convinced only of this:

The parents make the difference.

I know both bratty kids and respectful kids that attend expensive private schools. I also know both lost kids and engaging kids at free public schools.

I know a successful business leader who proficiently uses financial leverage in his company. He has no clue how to use leverage in parenting.

I know a restaurant caterer who refuses to cater to the demands of his sixteen-year-old. The customer is not always right; neither is the child. Both can be illogical.

Poor parenting often comes from parents’ unwillingness to accept the consequences of a child’s poor choices. They don’t want to miss the party themselves.

It is also rooted in the fear that discipline will alienate a child. The opposite is actually true: Appropriate discipline makes a child feel loved.

Relating well, striking the right balance between full throttle and full coast, expecting excellence while giving acceptance – these are the touchstones of good parenting.

Chauffeuring sounds a lot easier.

A friend’s corporate employer once challenged him to encapsulate his life mission into 6 words or less. He took that challenge and formulated this one:

“World’s best dad and getting better”

This simple line promises presence and connection, not more running around town.

Modern life brings many enemies of healthy parenting: divorce, absenteeism, schedule strain, the temptation to shirk duties because one is providing financially for the family.

We feeble humans can only do so much. “Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” Lombardi once said. Let us give our first fruits to the kids we were given. No one else can make the difference.


Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. Follow him at

1 Response to “Parents make the difference”

  1. 1 jessestroup May 12, 2014 at 15:56

    Kevin, Kevin, Kevin,  This is another keeper.  Thanks for using your talents to express such fundamental truths and  continue to do so.  AND  I like the humor that’s woven throughout this one too.  Keep’um coming. 

    Love, Jesse

      Jesse R. Stroup Director of Spiritual Care Lifeline Chaplaincy 511 N. Akard suite 202 Dallas, TX 75201

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