Monday, March 21, 2005

Family Values?

“Anything worth doing is worth doing right!”

“Anything worth having is worth working for!”

Recordings of my father’s admonishments have replayed in my mind so many times that I long ago quit questioning the validity of his warnings and have made them a part of my very being. Everything that I consider worth my time gets my complete effort. Everything that gets my complete effort is done as well as I can do it. “Good enough” is not good enough unless I can’t do any better. Everything that has value to me is something I planned and something I achieved. Once acquired, I spend as much time maintaining my things as I spent getting them. Giving my best is who I am.

I didn’t like my father very much when he was teaching me to be an adult. Life as a child would have been so much easier for me if he would have allowed me to give less than my best effort. Life as a child would have been so much more enjoyable if I didn’t have to earn the things I received. Completely finishing a project is easier for me as an adult than leaving a task undone. As and adult, it is more enjoyable for me to earn a reward than it is for me to enjoy a gift.

My two little girls are hearing most of my father’s advice and even more from me. They have both responded by being exceptional at their school work and almost every other activity. As their father, I am very proud to see them give so much effort and achieve such good results. However, also as their father, for the first time in many years I am starting to question the wisdom of the values I am passing on to them.

I don’t want my girls to grow into adults who place more value on completing a project than they do on the people working on the project. I don’t want my girls to grow into adults who take so much pride in their own achievement that they can’t feel good about aspects of life that have nothing to do with achievement. I don’t want my girls to learn any values from me that get in the way of the values that are important to God.


Derek Simmons said...

What you learned from your father and what, as a father, you are passing on to your girls needs the re-thinking you are giving it, at least to this extent. All of us who are driven to excel and to acquire face the danger that the "worth" we attach to the effort and to its effect is only easily measured by the world's standards--what we want to excel in; what we want to acquire. If your "parental" equation factors in the Will of God, then the dangers can be--and with prayer and waiting and work--will be reduced to the lowest level possible in this fallen world. May God Bless you as a father as He Blesses you in all the roles He calls you to play as a Christian.
Your Brother in Christ,

Teresa said...

You sound a lot like MY husband. He is a SUPER over-achiever, but I admire much of it. I am really not like that. I think that you are right to want your girls to have balance. But I think that in having two parents, who are not alike gives them that balance. They will pick up what they need from both.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Teresa,

I've had times in my life when I have over-achieved, but I've had many other times where I didn't start something I should have because I couldn't make a full commitment. I'm very glad for my wife to add balance to what I teach my girls; at the same time, I want to be able to articulate and model for my girls better behaviors than what I received. My parents did the best they could, but I don't want to blindly pass on the parts of my being that get in the way of my girls being what God created them to be.

Hammertime said...

I think you tagged the answer with your comment - the dual parenting system. I am similarly goal oriented, and my wife is more people oriented. Of course, neither of us is exclusive of the other half of the spectrum, but we feel we give a good balance. After all, one can be both goal- and people-oriented, and the values need not conflict.

I am passing on similar values - but I didn't get them from my parents...