As my daughters grew up, like many other parents, I wanted them to participate in extra curricular activities. This of course, would impact their social building skills (never a problem there). Different activities would also help them to figure out interests they may have. There are many benefits. In full disclosure, I did not have this exposure or influence growing up. So, to say I was “winging it,” is an understatement.
The foundation of anything I had my daughters participate in, was commitment. If they were to start something, there was going to be a commitment. It did not need to be a permanent one, but I wanted them to know for sure, whether or not an activity was something that they wanted to participate in or not. And that would require time.
I also wanted them to know, that if they chose to participate in something that involved a “team” concept, it was the most important part of being a team player, to be there for their team. The expression, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” not being able to rely on someone to show up makes that person a weak link.
If my daughters were signed up for something with no commitment to period of time, I had them participate for several months at a minimum. If the activity had some sort of time limit, such as a school semester, they rode the entire period out.
My dynamic duo has now reached the next stage of their young lives, and it will require them to take how they were raised, and realize the commitments they are facing as they approach adulthood. As their father, I can make this time period about me, because, I never expected to see this day because of all the serious health issues that I deal with. I have never wanted anything more, than to witness the women they are becoming.
Continued education is in both of their futures, with one standing on the doorstep, the other, lacing up her shoes to get ready to go. One has selected and accepted an offer to college, giving her the opportunity to extend and enhance a gift I believe she was born with. The other, following her sister, is continuing the steps necessary to get accepted to the college that she would like to go to some day.
I have been busy helping both, yes, as a non-custodial parent, it is still my responsibility to do what I am able to help in this process from taking the SAT’s to the process of picking schools. Giving my daughter the credit she deserves, she researched the colleges and schools that she was interested in, and filed the applications and necessary supplements (such as a portfolio) on her own, just the way that I did when I graduated. And she made the decision on her own, ignoring all outside noise, good and bad from opinions of where she should go.
Step one of the process to one of her major commitments in life, no regrets.
(note – I have always loved this line from the movie “We Are The Millers)
I told my daughter that if I could give her only one piece advice, ignoring everything else, make your choice on what is best for you, what will meet your need to reach your dream. In full disclosure, this was advice given to me by a long time friend and former classmate, and Dad in the process of his second child going off to college.
I told her, that if she did not make the decision for herself, by herself, she risked living with regrets on what could have been. When she told me all of her options, I let her know, they were all good choices. Just like a dance studio or karate dojo, she needed to see what each had to offer, options available, and know, that her Dad was going to be “sitting off in the corner” as always, cheering her on in full support. But I told her, this is an ultimate commitment, not just four years at the college, but for what she wants to do the rest of her life. I have no doubt, she is going to be one of the best at what she does.
Her sister is following her footsteps in the process, while pursuing her own directions. Again, never expecting to have made it this far myself, there is still so much more for me to see, and I want to see it all.
Why do I feel like singing “The Circle Of Life” by Elton John right now? Yes, I am one proud Dad. I have two very special reasons to be.