Please, Please Don’t Do This

It’s a very sad story. One we’ve told here many times before. ​It was the story of the editor Sonny Mehta’s father​​It was Ted Williams​. It was countless other parents—parents who never expressed affection, ​who said harsh things to their kids​, who never seemed to be proud of them.

Yet what did their kids find after their parents died? All the evidence to the contrary. We talked recently about the actor Alfred Molina whose father just could not understand why, let alone how, his son could make it as an actor. Even now, at age 71 and a parent himself, Molina still tears up at the feeling that he disappointed his dad by pursuing an unconventional career.

“My father and I never really talked about my work,” ​he told Vanity Fair​. “He wasn’t phoning me up saying, ‘So what are you up to? What’s going on?’ We never had that kind of relationship. When he passed away, I went to Spain for the funeral and I was with his widow, my stepmom, and she drags out this suitcase and it’s full of clippings and photos and bits from magazines and letters from people that wrote to him saying they saw me. He kept all this stuff, but he never talked about it.”

It’s tragic and sweet at the same time. It’s also so, so preventable. Don’t be an idiot! Tell your kids you’re proud of them. Collecting press clippings? Following from afar? Just tell them you love them. Tell them you were wrong for doubting them—explain that you were scared. ​Do the work to repair​, as we’ve talked about many times. Molina was asked by his father’s wife if he wanted to keep the scrapbooks. He said no, it was too painful…but we can imagine he would have killed for a letter in his twenties and thirties. He ached for any evidence that his father was proud, that he wasn’t a disappointment.

​They want one thing from you​, we’ve said. They want to know that you see them. That you love them. That you’re rooting for them. Give it! Before it’s too late!

We think this idea—that you have to be your kids’ biggest supporter—is so important that in The Daily Dad book, the entire month of August is on the theme. The month of August in The Daily Dad: 366 Meditations on Parenting, Love, and Raising Great Kids is titled, “Always Be A Fan”—it is, as we’ve said, the greatest gift you can give your kids.

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