Part of what I say here today comes from the writings of Paulo Coelho in the Alchemist. Paulo describes 12 parental lessons for guidance on parenting. Hillary Clinton had her own self-described method called “It takes a village.” Having raised four children of my own with the help of a wife who was there to keep me in tow when I went too overboard on discipline, I have some of the same ideas and ideals expressed by these two celebrities.
I have always believed in supporting my children in their endeavors and helping them believe that nothing should hold them back. I was the first from my family to attend and graduate from college and I give my parents credit for encouraging me to attend Delta State. My plans were to join the Air Force after graduating from CHS, but I was too young to join without parental consent. My mom and dad made a deal with me “Go one semester to Delta State and then decide what you want.” Well, I never made it to the Air Force went on to graduate at DSU and later Ole Miss with master's and Ph.D. I thank them for insisting that I give college a chance.
It was a given in our family that each of our children would graduate from college and Ann and I are proud to say that all four of our children are college graduates and both Lisa (with doctorate from DSU) and Daty (master's from Texas Woman’s University) have earned advanced degrees. Ann and I counted the college degrees our family has earned at DSU and we counted 11 degrees for our family. Thanks DSU for being here for us. I am also proud to say that all four of my children (and myself) graduated from Cleveland High School and I want to thank the teachers, administrators and support staff for providing a quality secondary education. Ann graduated from Drew High School.
Discipline and stability were important in our family. Some of my children might even say I was too tough on them. We never let them use the "but _____'s mom and dad let them" excuse. We truly believed that we knew what was best for our children. We had curfews and rest assured we were awake when they came in. They probably finally realized why we always hugged them at night when they came in.
We believed that each of our children should follow their dreams and let nothing hold them back, but be responsible for their actions. We never let them quit once they were involved in activities and we strongly encourage organized sports. Tennis has always been a big part of our family gatherings even since they have all grown up. I can still remember a few instances where one wanted to quit a sport or an activity because things weren’t going as they hoped, but we refused to let them quit.
We tried to teach our children to not fear obstacles and the unknown. One example that comes to my mind is when Philip (our oldest son) was trying to get in pilot training with the Air Force. He actually received a pilot slot, which was later rescinded due to budget cuts. He was approached about taking a missile slot but turned it down because his one dream since 12-years-old was to become a pilot. DSU had just started their aviation program and he was about to graduate with an Air Port Management degree and had plans to get his pilot training in the Air Force. He later was asked to attend 12 weeks of basic training and if he did well there was a chance that he might get a pilot slot. He came to me and asked what he should do. My advice was to go for it. “If you want to be a pilot, then this may be your last chance”. He did well in basic and got his slot and the rest is history. He spent 20 years in the Air Force and Reserves and is now a pilot for UPS stationed in Louisville, Ky.
One lesson I learned from reading Paulo that I wish I had learned myself earlier and had taught my children was to learn to read, not just books (which is a necessity) but learn to read people. What one says sometimes can have many different meanings. Learn to read what they truly mean and you will not be misled by false dreams or hopes.
It still takes a village and a church to raise a family but there is no substitute for support, guidance and discipline from both a father and a mother. I have also seen from another perspective that having a grandmother or a granddad there for support doesn’t hurt. Right Micci…