Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Good Dads Don't Do Nothing
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.- Edmund Burke
I am reading these words at the bottom of an email from my 24 year-old son. He uses this message as part of his email “signature”. He also uses it as his voicemail message on his cell phone. Instead of saying "this is Jason, leave a message" he says, "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil…” etcetera, and today I'm reading it as if for the first time, and wondering, just how did it get there?
Since when did he become so principled? Is this the same young man who couldn't be “persuaded” (read that as forced) to clean his room, who didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, who was afraid to take off his training wheels and ride his bike? Perhaps I need to adjust the way in which I look at my son.
I have had several of these moments in the last few years, moments in which my world was turned upside down, or at least skewed, in a good way. These were times when my expectations weren't met . . . but they were surpassed, times when I found myself learning from my son, instead of the other way around. And as a Dad it feels good, very good, to have finally arrived at that point.
My oldest son serves in the U.S. Navy with responsibility for maneuvering a ship that is 600' long. I had a chance to visit the ship as it was being brought into port, and it struck me that although I still get nervous when he asks to borrow the family car, the Navy is entirely comfortable asking him and a bunch of his twenty-something peers to drive this billion-dollar ship. Maybe its time for me to rethink our roles and let go a little. Or let go a lot.
Another son now in college has an incredible knowledge of religious studies that I can never attain. Is this the same kid that I could not motivate to get out of bed for church?
Even my high-school-age son is coaching me on my jogging stride and teaching me new licks on the guitar.
All this is to say that my three sons, as hard as they have been to raise, are now beginning to bear their own fruit and it’s wonderful to watch. At the time when you are surrounded by dirty diapers and stuffed animals things can get pretty discouraging. You may wonder if your kids hear a word of what you are saying, and if anything will ever make a difference, but if you just hang with it through all the tough toddler-to-teenage years you might find that your kids will emerge in their twenties to surprise you in the most delightful way.
So stick with it. Keep on parenting. Don’t give up the fight. If I may plagiarize Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good Dads to do nothing.”
This article originally appeared on Operation Us. They offer marriage and relationship skills education resources. You can read more at this link (click here).