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Cornelius News

Father’s Day: A good time to reflect on being a dad

MODERN DAD | By Jon Show

[June 9] When I was in high school, my mom got me a copy of “Life’s Little Instruction Book.” It was pocket-sized, had a red tartan cover, and offered “511 suggestions, observations, and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life.”

The book ended up on the back of the toilet because that’s where books ended up before we had phones. I think I read that book and the shampoo and conditioning bottles at least a thousand times.

Many of the suggestions in the book were highly banal, like “Stop to smell the roses.” Others didn’t age well, like “Resist the urge to record a cute answering machine message.”

I recently re-read “Life’s Little Instruction Book” and didn’t remember much of it, but I definitely remember two pieces of advice because they’ve stuck with me my entire life:

• Improve your performance by improving your attitude.

• Your mind can only hold one thought at a time. Make it a positive and constructive one.

It was crazy to reread those two passages all these years later and realize they became a core tenet in how I parent my kids. In fact, I put a combined version of them in this Father’s Day column every year.

The only things you can control in life are your attitude and effort. Wake up. Put two feet on the ground. And go. Every day.

On to the annual Father’s Day advice column that … everyone say it with me … my kids probably won’t read or heed.

Everyone receives plenty of opportunities in life, and it’s your decision if, and to what degree, to take those opportunities. That doesn’t mean you have to take any of them, but understand that if you don’t, then you’ve failed yourself – the world didn’t fail you.

I don’t know if this is advice or just introspection, but I believe that if you truly love something, then it’s worth being fanatical about it. It’s worth being obsessed with it to the point that other people are confused by your obsession.

You’re the author in your own book about your life. Don’t like something? Turn the page. I stole that from Matthew McConaughey’s autobiography.

If I treat the two of you differently, it’s because you’re different people. Everyone likes to be motivated and loved and encouraged in different ways.

I can’t stress this enough as it relates to social media – no one cares about what you’re doing except your family and your close friends. It’s a vacuum that exists to make happy people doubt the quality of their lives and provide an outlet for sad people to seem happy.

Become friends with all kinds of people who have different opinions and beliefs than you do, and don’t judge them or try to change their minds. Except for people who don’t tip. Don’t be friends with them.

Don’t join a political party. They’re all sheep who are differentiated by whichever shepherd they’ve chosen to follow. They’ve just been polluted with different ideologies.

I ask you to stand up straight, look people in the eye, and be conversational when you’re around adults because it’s a reflection on me as a parent. If you want to slouch and mumble as an adult, go ahead, but you’ll find out you won’t get very far.

Your success in anything in life will be determined as much by your mental toughness as by your abilities.

Here’s some more advice from someone besides me: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou.

Be kind.

Understand that whatever emotion you’re feeling as it relates to an accomplishment or a failure is being felt by your mother and me at a rate of 10 times what you’re feeling. The difference is you possess the ability to do something about it and we just have to sit and watch. I’d much rather be in your shoes than ours.

Don’t waste one second of your day on people who don’t deserve it.

There are parents who believe in creating opportunities for their kids and those who believe their kids should create their own opportunities. You were born to the latter because we think it’ll benefit you in the long run. If it doesn’t? Well, oops?

To that point, we have no idea what we’re doing when it comes to raising kids and neither will you. You impart a mix of the things you liked about your upbringing and throw some other stuff against the wall to see if it sticks.

At the end of the day, all I know is that I have good days and bad days as a parent. No different than you as a kid. I don’t even know if any of this advice I give every year is any good. It’s just my opinion, really.

But I do know one thing for certain.

The only things you can control in life are your attitude and effort. Wake up. Put two feet on the ground. And go. Every day.

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 13-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 10-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.

Father’s Day is June 18