It’s Ok To Have Conditions

Your job is to be a fan of your kids. We’ve said this before. Your job is to help them become who they are. We’ve said that too. Your job is to help them find “their project,” their “life’s task.” We’ve said all that, and hopefully you’ve gotten the message.

But let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean you support anything and everything, that you can’t exert some conditions. Of course you can. This is also your job. Rodney Mullen, perhaps the greatest skateboarder of all time, felt some preternatural attraction to skateboarding as a kid. His father–who from Mullen’s memoir The Mutt we gather was not perfect–was nervous about the whole thing. He was pretty sure his son just had some passing fancy. He thought he’d give up on it because it was hard and more importantly, Mullen’s father was convinced his son would very badly hurt himself.

But when Mullen begged and begged and begged for a skateboard, his father did exactly what we’re talking about. He supported him…but with conditions. “This is our deal,” he said, “You wear pads all the time. I mean all the time. If I ever catch you without pads, it’s all over. No discussion–that will be it for your skateboarding.” Mullen’s life and the sport were never the same.

Our job is to support our kids, to root for them, to let them become who they are. But that’s not a blank check. It’s not a check without conditions or constraints. In fact, these conditions and constraints can be a good thing. They keep our kids accountable. They keep them safe. They make them earn it–take the responsibility of their skills, their interests, their potential seriously. And they help us get over our reservations and doubts too.

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