As a father I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the inherent paradox of compelled self-motivation. I want my kids to perform well in all of their pursuits. However I don’t want to have to hound them constantly in order for them to do that. The goal is that doing good and feeling good about their own accomplishments becomes the goal and not just keeping me off of their backs. If the latter is the goal what can they expect if I’m not there to encourage them? Yet if former is the goal they will just be good for goodness sake. The accomplishment remains the goal and not just fear of dad’s reprisals if they don’t accomplish the goal.
I have a problem with being more than a little too introspective. I personalize the problem and try to see where I might have set, or am setting a bad example for them. Not to deflect responsibility from my kids for their grades, however I feel that I may have been setting a bad example for them. Specifically in the area of completing a task and not giving excuses I think I’ve been setting the wrong example.
A few years ago we started a project to remodel the house. It needed an awful lot of work. The largest of the projects was to replace the siding and redo the kitchen cabinets. For the most part we got the tasks completed and they look nice. But we quickly ran out of money and time. The deck is still unfinished. The front of the house could use some shutters. The stairs are still carpeted in spite of the fact that the rest of the house has been replaced with hardwood floors. I still need to fix a new top on some bookcases installed a couple months ago and there are several little picky problems throughout the house, a power outlet that doesn’t work, a dripping faucet, a door handle that falls off, etc. etc.
I have good excuses for most of the problems. We ran out of money. I don’t have the right tool. The weather is too wet, to hot or too cold. I’m too busy this weekend. I don’t have enough room to work. Just to name a few. But these are all just excuses. I’m a hypocrite. I wouldn’t allow my kids to give me a line of excuses to justify their performance in school, scouts, or any of their activities. Yet I have my own litany of reasons and excuses to justify my shortcomings. And to top it off they live in a house that reminds them every day of the many things that I have failed to complete.
I don’t have a reasonable ETA for getting all of these tasks completed but I need to hold myself to the same expectations that I require of the kids. I’ll start with the ones that present a safety concern. Follow those with the ones that cost the least amount of money to remedy and work up to the ones that with take more time and effort. However I’ve put off correcting them for too long and now I fear that it is more than just my house that is suffering.
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