Parenting can be a thankless job. Sure, we get Mother’s and Father’s Days, and every once in a while they’ll make us some little art project or give us a hug out of the blue, but for the most part parenting is a one-way street. We raise them, care for them, provide for them, and they go on about their lives never thinking about the golden parachute that is provided to them during their time with us.
Then they move out and we’re lucky if we get a phone call once a week.
Well, I say enough is enough! Considering all the time, money, and sleepless nights I’ve put in so far, and the countless examples of such that are still to come, I’ve determined that I have a completely reasonable set of expectations for how they can pay me back for all this selfless love and giving once they come of age.
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No. 1: They’ll make good money. They will embark upon careers that will allow me to realize my lifelong dream: a life of leisure. Renowned scientist, professional athlete, lucky S.O.B. with a winning lottery ticket — I don’t care. I’m flexible. I just need them to be rich and to support me in the manner to which I would like to become accustomed.
No. 2: Significant others will require my approval. Keeping our future wealth in mind, I should also have final say on any partners with whom they may wish to share our riches. Need to make sure we don’t get any gold diggers siphoning off Daddy’s portion of the fortune. Applicants for the spousal position will be judged on how adorable they think their bae’s old man is.
No. 3: They will provide me with a cabin. And a butler. I don’t want to become too intrusive, so once I’ve arranged the kids’ marriages, they should have their own space. Therefore, I require a nice, secluded cabin somewhere with an in-home theatre and a staff of willing help who will look after my wife’s and my every need. The butler’s name will be Waldo. It doesn’t matter if that’s his actual name or not: he’ll make enough money that he won’t have a problem with me calling him Waldo.
No. 4: They will gift me an exquisite vehicle. Checking off the necessities list, I will also require transportation. One fine Christmas morning, birthday, or Father’s Day, I expect to wake up to a shiny, lovingly restored and souped-up 1966 Batmobile. It should be fully detailed, in pristine condition, with the atomic battery to power and turbines to speed.
No. 5: They will be always available to me. Finally, I have given them some space, but they should understand that this is a privilege, not a right. I expect them to be at my beck and call at all times, day or night, 365 days a year until I leave this blessed Earth. The monument celebrating the selfless love and unconditional support I’ve always given them should be grandiose.
All perfectly reasonable expectations, yes? Well, maybe not so much.
It always amazes me when I hear stories about how parents basically expect their children to live their entire lives as if it was some form of do-over for the parents themselves. We all have regrets in life. It’s not on our kids to make up for them, and it’s not on them to make true the dreams that we had every opportunity to fulfill ourselves.
Parenting is indeed a one-way street in the sense that it’s on us to provide them with what they need to live their lives. Don’t get me wrong — I expect a certain level of respect for what their mother and I have done and will do for them as time goes on. However, it’s not fair to expect them to bend over backwards just to make me happy. That’s my job, not theirs.
That said, while I’ll do my best to provide them the opportunities to do so, the reverse holds true as well. Mommy and Daddy can’t make their dreams come true for them. That’s on them. So with that said, here’s what I really want from them once they come of age:
No. 1: They’ll be respectful. They’ll show some respect not just for what we do for them, but for what others (family, friends, teachers, coaches, etc.) do for them as well.
No. 2: They’ll find fulfilling careers. Whatever they decide to do, it should be something that fulfills them. Money is important to a point (they will have to support themselves), but finding something that makes them happy to get out of bed in the morning and gives them a sense of pride is even more important.
No. 3: Their partners will treat them well. Whoever they love — no matter their race, gender, or religion — will treat them with love and respect and appreciate them for who they are, not what they can do for them. It would be nice if the significant other liked hanging out with the family, as well.
No. 4: They’ll call us, at least sometimes. Maybe a phone call every other week or so just to let us know what’s going on with their lives.
No. 5: They’ll carry on our values. When they have kids of their own, they’ll feel inclined to pass on the same lessons and values we tried to instill in them, and maybe add some new stuff to the mix that we never thought of.
Those seems perfectly reasonable. I don’t think we should have any problem there. That said, if they do happen to strike it rich, and they want to get me that Batmobile, I won’t say no.
An overgrown man-child and connoisseur of geek culture, Jeremy Wilson is striving to raise his two sons to become more responsible, self-actualized men than himself. So far they are not cooperating. You can follow along at fatherhoodinthetrenches.com.