I live in New York. People in NY have (literally) cried about “The Conversation.” They say how sad it is that they have to tell their kids to be careful of the police.
“OMG,” they say, “I can’t believe that, I have to say to my children that they should obey the laws.” Because if they don’t, they will be profiled.
As the Dad of a boy though, I get confused. I had that conversation a long time ago with my son, who is a white, honest, innocent, “leave it to beaver” type, boy. (I only say “white” here to demonstrate that color should not matter. Being white, who cares? Well, I “Had the talk” anyway, as did the NYC mayor with his kids.)
Raised in the suburbs, no worries. Yet, when he was 12, I had “The talk.” I said, “Do whatever the police say. They have the guns. We can fight it later.” That is my honest talk with him. I told him that in 1999.
Any boy who has a father who lives at home with him will have that talk. (At least I would hope they would.)
Here is one letter (of many) that I sent to my son over the years, when he was having a rough time:
Here’s an idea. I said about trying to look close to home to make you feel better, instead of mainly concerning yourself with the world’s problems. At least for the time being. And you don’t have to completely ignore the outside world, but try to make your home life better in small ways. I said about finding a girl to date. But how about a pet. Coming home to a guinea pig or a couple of rats might be a nice change. Or maybe even a cat. They take care of themselves for the most part (other than feeding and cleaning their litter box).
Something to think about.
And always remember that things will get better. In the future you’ll look back at this time and carry it as a badge of what you could take and keep on going. You’ll be proud of how you got through it. It doesn’t make it easier right now, but keep your head up. All great men go through trying times, and I mean ALL. Then when you read about it in the history books, it’s like it was easy for them because they knew they were going to do great things. But they didn’t know that. Each one thought their lives could be over during the rough times (sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally). G. Washington didn’t know he was going to be the first president when he rode in front of his troops to keep them from retreating and had bullets shot through his coat.
It’s hard to realize it while it’s happening but the times you are going through now are molding you into the better person you will be in the future. It can help if you try to look at everything with the glass half full theory. There is a positive side to everything if you can find it. One trick I used when I was at the bottom was to remember that my upbringing was pretty good. My parents didn’t beat me, and they loved me. Your Mom and I may not have gotten everything right, but we loved (and love) you and we hardly ever beat you. Think back about the good times and remember that nobody can take them away from you. That’s a lot of good will that you have inside of you that some people don’t have. And that’s a good thing.
Keep on plugging away.
Having a Dad around is so much more important than modern culture would have you believe. In my extended family, those without Dads have found themselves in trouble, those with Dads have found their journeys much easier to navigate.
The moral here: A better world does not come easy. It takes much effort to raise free thinking, independent adults.
Keep fighting the good fight.
It is not for naught that you toil each and every day.
Both as parent and also as child.
Keep fighting the good fight.Published in