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What are the biggest differences between what you imagined having children would be like and your actual experience?
Kids keep you younger.
This was a big surprise. Pre-parenting, I assumed that once you have kids, much of your own youth atrophies disappeared. No more closing down bars in Manhattan at 4 AM. No more driving to LA for no reason except that my buddies and I thought it would be fun. No more dashing from city to city, signing a series of short-term rentals and valuing mobility above all. To me, the parenting years seemed to be a world of PTA-approved bedtimes, safe vacations and mortgages. Yuck!
At every age, you benefit from your kids’ explorations of new worlds.
Turns out I had my head pointed in the wrong direction. When kids are little, you rediscover a sense of wonder that’s so amazing, you wonder how and why you ever lost it. You share in kids’ amazement about clouds, trampolines, drinking straws, and a whole lot more. Your curiosity returns.
When kids get bigger, you gather up your knowledge and build it into a teaching curriculum for the future, not the past. You explain how to splice an audio file, not a cassette tape. You stay relevant.
At every age, you benefit from your kids’ exploration of new worlds. Even if you seldom listen to their music, watch their movies or visit their websites (and boundaries are good here), you pick up a much richer sense of where the world is headed. You gain a lifetime vaccination against the perils of becoming a cranky old git.
George Anders is a writer whose work has been published by Forbes and Green Car Reports. Read more from Quora here: