Kathy: We were just talking yesterday about how well-raised your kids are...funny to keep calling them "kids" since they're pretty much grown-ups...but you and Kate did a great job. We were wondering how much is "nature" and how much is "nurture." We know so many examples of incompatable family units that it's refreshing to find such a close-knit bunch.
I put most of the credit on Kate, frankly. We decided when we started that her full-time job was going to be Mom, and so she was with them when so many other moms were putting their kids in day-care. Made a HUGE difference to them, her being available for school and homework and music and games (and making sure they did their part of cleaning up and taking out the trash and sorting the laundry...) She's retired now, essentially; instead of a gold watch she got the kids' HS diplomas.
Genetically, we gave the kids height and embarrassing amounts of body hair, but the attitude is based on them growing up in an atmosphere of:
- We are here as a family; I expect you to help, and you can expect me to help you. And we will have fun together, too.
- I don't care if you can catch a football or not, but you will develop your mind, at school and at home, as fully as possible.
- Please and Thank you are mandatory. If you want us to respect you, you will respect us.
- Parents are in charge, but we are willing to listen and will change our minds if you have a good enough case
- If you f*ck up, I will back you up and bail you out. Then, when we get home, I will kill you myself if I think you deserve it.
It worked pretty well for us, I think. We were parents first, and then their friends; too many of the Dr. Spock generation tried to be friends first, and then they couldn't or wouldn't exercize authority as parents.
Kathy: I guess it helps to have cool parents who don't embarrass you...(?)
You can't embarrass little kids. The embarrassment comes when they're teenagers; if you try to treat them like little kids still, that's when it goes bad. Kate almost never tried the "You're too young to ..." gig; instead, she and Maggie were coloring each other's hair when other girls were still using Tinkerbelle lipstick. The other girls would tell her "You have the coolest mom...", but Kate put Maggie on detention if she tried to screw around in Band class.
OTOH, Maggie once made the mistake of trying for the "Just pretend you don't know me at the mall" game. Kate walked five steps behind her, and announced loudly "SHE'S HERE ON HER OWN! I DON'T KNOW HER! SHE'S BY HERSELF!" until Mags ran over and tried to shush her. Kate don't shush for nobody
So that's it, twenty-three years of parenting in a nutshell. Your children may vary.