How to be a Great Parent: Do dangerous things every now and then, conquer your fears

In no way would I ever think of exploiting my grandchildren, but this site is about more than just politics, philosophy and current events. It’s also about good healthy living and my hope that people out there may be inspired to live a little better and for the right reasons.  For me this little picture of me with my grandchildren over the past weekend as they were staying at my home is an example of living the good life.  I have found being a grandparent to be immensely rewarding, you get to revisit your youth while playing with them plus you have the financial resources to help provide them with opportunities to live good lives of their own, and I just love having them in my life.  We have a lot of fun and we play a lot—and through play they are learning vast amounts of information that they will take with them all through their lives.  It’s a very magical thing.  However, it was the reason they were staying at my house that day which had me pondering a more complicated subject matter.

As seen in these pictures my two daughters and my son-in-law were all on grand adventures at the same time. They are all hitting those strange years just shy of age 30 where adulthood makes its unmistakable entry.  They will no longer be considered young after age thirty and now that they have kids of their own, they can all see that life is getting very busy.  It wasn’t very long ago that we were all eating at a nice restaurant and talking about life and how fast things go when I said to them to look at all the affluent people eating around us.  Without many exceptions most of the people did not look like the actors and actresses that we see on television and in movies—most people look like versions of Mr. Potato Heads, they are fat, out-of-shape, and boring.  They live terribly dreary lives and give up on their educations essentially at age 15 for the rest of their lives.  When my kids were asking how they could avoid such a fate I told them that they needed to do things differently.  Sit around eating fattening foods, don’t learn anything new, and play everything safe and you will end up looking like the people in that restaurant—bored and diseased.  My kids listened and they apply it to the events of their lives.

So here they all were at a certain place in their lives, their kids are little but growing up fast—they’ll be going to school soon and life will start moving very fast, and my kids are very concerned about becoming meat-heads. I don’t worry about them becoming one of those people, but naturally their biological inclinations are pushing them toward that age 30 self-analysis—so it’s relevant.  That’s about the time that my son-in-law showed up at my home with a new motorcycle—an 1800 CC road bike and announced that he was going to take a cross-country trip to see America.  Most of the trip he’d be alone, which I thought was bold.  Then within days of that event my daughters announced that they were going to go sky diving.  So on the day that we took that picture with all the grandkids my daughters were jumping out of an airplane while my son-in-law was coming out of the Nevada desert on his new motorcycle and heading to the cool mountains around Lake Tahoe headed for San Francisco.

I couldn’t help but be proud of them for doing these adventures because the spirit of adventure has a way of shaping people into being dynamic individuals in other aspects of their lives. I don’t want my kids resentful of their role as parents because they didn’t do this or do that before the really hard years of raising a family.  Life has a way of putting a vice on lives and turning people into something disgusting.  It was strange to see all the pictures of their adventures coming in as we were watching the new generation play as very young people—I am used to being the one doing all the big things—and now my kids were.  I take a lot of pride in doing more before I was 30 years old than most five people do in their entire lives.  So I was able to get through those hard years after without it changing me into a person of resentment, because I had lived life enough to feel satisfied.  I knew my children would certainly get a lot out of that skydiving trip.  It’s good to overcome fears so that you aren’t governed by them all your life.

I hear all the time people say that they shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t do that because they have children they are responsible for—such as sky diving. What if something happened?  What those people mostly are doing when they say such things is that they are using their kids as crutches for their own cowardliness and this leads to a destructive chain reaction that turns the kids later in life into idiots.  Doing things in life that are truly terrifying help you grow, and you should do them often.  Failure to do so turns your body into mush starting with your cell structure.  People who routinely play everything safe tend to be very sickly people.  They are frail because their bodies have not been challenged and their cell replications stop building robust body parts—and they get slack with age making them weak people.  The best way to stay healthy is to push yourself often, whether it’s occasionally driving over 100 MPH, doing a live radio interview, speaking in front of a lot of people or camping someplace scary—like in a region known for Big Foot sightings.IMG_5110

My kids are brave people but they were nervous to do the sky diving trip and I was worried that they might not do it. When it came down to the pressure of doing it, they held their composure and didn’t let the world see them sweat.  Everything of course turned out fine—which statistically speaking, it was probably more dangerous to drive to the airport to actually sky dive than to actually do the act.  The safety equipment is very good, so it was actually, probably the least dangerous thing they did that day.  But, to willingly fight against the biological instinct of jumping out of an airplane was something that would likely change their lives for the better because they overcame a fear and that kind of thing stays with you all your life.   I was very proud of how they handled themselves before and after the big jump.

IMG_5116My son-in-law on the other hand was doing something that was much more dangerous—riding across the country on a motorcycle. There are a lot more opportunities for error on an endeavor like that, but his challenge was different from my kids.  As mothers, they had a transformative experience through giving birth to their children.  But guys, they have a different problem—they don’t get those rituals.  They don’t have menstrual periods and they certainly don’t go through nine month pregnancies.  Sure men go through some emotional stuff with their wives, but men just get left out of the process pretty much after they plant their see so to speak in a woman.  That becomes a problem later for them in life—men are expected to have all the answers but how do they get those answers if they are standing there holding their wives hands while they “push?”IMG_5114.JPG

Men need to feel the heat of a burning sun in the desert, they need to shiver in the dark next to a campfire—they need to worry about their deaths and learn to safe guard their existence. Men need something different and for my son-in-law, a cross-country motorcycle trip alone is a good place to start.  For some young men the military gives them a little of that transformative process—during basic training.  But I think much more is needed and the best people I know as adults now had very perilous circumstances as young adults that they survived.  It’s rare that a person—especially a man—ever amounts to anything good in life if they have not pushed themselves beyond their fears.  A fearful man I would dare say is a dangerous person to have running around in the world.   They are no good for civilization because their unrealized potential is wasted on self-destructive behavior as they instinctively know they need something but what they end up doing is destroying things around them in the process.

IMG_5113Conquering fears makes good parents—someone that kids can look up to. There is nothing noble about being a chicken-shit and there is nothing good about being Mr. Safety when what you train your kids to be are a bunch of soft idiots.  So I am very proud that my kids are pushing themselves.  It was very wonderful to watch my grandchildren expand as people as my children are also reaching beyond the void to conquer those little itches that often become major problems later in life if un-dealt with.  People need to expand and grow and caving to fears does not lead to personal growth.  They may help you live longer which is how we inherited all these primal instincts toward fear, but conquering fear is an intellectual pursuit specific to human imagination.  It takes a conscious effort to step out of an airplane at 13,000 feet and it takes tremendous fortitude to ride 6000 miles on a motorcycle through every possible condition over a two-week period—alone.  But the benefits far outweigh the tribulations and it made me feel good to spend time with my grandchildren knowing how much they have to look forward to—specifically, parents who aren’t idiots and have actually done things in life worth respecting.IMG_5117

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

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