Monday, November 21, 2016

Parenthood: Week 179 - Raising a Good Guy

An’ you be a good guy, Jesse. You gotta be like John Wayne: You don’t take no shit off fools, an’ you judge a person by what’s in ‘em, not how they look. An’ you do the right thing. You gotta be one of the good guys, son: ‘cause there’s way too many of the bad. 
Preacher #9 - Garth Ennis

I believe that all people are inherently good. There are many people, too many, whose insecurities, fears and darker emotions lead them to do and say mean, prejudicial and horrible things. These are people who are sad, and lonely and unfortunately hurt others in a vain attempt to get that universal meaning that only comes from learning to love others and to be loved.

I look at my son, and I know he’s a good guy. He’s a wonderful guy. There are frustrations when he refuses to do things like take off his shoes or wash his hands, but these aren’t signs that he’s bad. It’s just him learning to work through processes and not fully understanding the “why” behind our requests.

We work hard to make sure that he is surrounded by models of people who are good. There will be times when I will have to introduce him to the horrors of humanity. Ollie will know about the genocide in Cambodia, he will know about the Holocaust, he will know about the Trail of Tears and he will know about the atrocities in the Congo in the late 1800s. That’s for later. Right now, Ollie needs to be exposed to people who are loving and kind and a world that includes the different facets of his identity.

Ollie regularly watches Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Tumbleleaf. We’ve worked hard to make sure that the books that are in our house show Ollie a spectrum of diversity, racially and in other ways. Musically, Ollie’s favorite singer is Elton John, and he deliberately has been exposed to a variety of artists including Brandi Carlile, The Supremes, and The Beatles.

Ollie has heard speeches by Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama. One of the most important books in his collection is Of Thee I Sing, A Letter to My Daughters. This is President Obama’s beautiful children book that expresses the history of our great nation through important historical figures including Jane Adams, Cesar Chavez and Abraham Lincoln. Ollie has also watched videos of Secretary Clinton speak and we have talked to him about her work.

None of these people are perfect human beings, and we shouldn’t look to role models for perfection. We should look to them for traits that they demonstrate and admire them for those traits. As these traits come together, they help us understand what is good and right in the world. It provides a compass, a path to go on, and a way to see the good from the bad.

I’m saddened that there are no traits about the president elect, that he has demonstrated that will help Ollie understand what it means to be good. Titles aren’t always given to the best of us and sometimes the most positive leaders have no titles. When Ollie needs to understand what it means to be sad, lonely and insecure, we’ll have the president-elect, but for the rest of the time when Ollie needs to know what it means to be good, I’ll make sure to continue to surround him with shining light from the best of humanity.

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