Joco Opinion

Matt Keenan: For Parenting 101, experience remains the best teacher

My wife and I have 10 years of parental experience raising four children through the high school years.

These are the things that are true and always will be.

▪ You learn more from high school parent-teacher conferences standing in line talking to other parents than you do from the conference itself.

▪ Your kid doesn’t need to visit college campuses in San Diego, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Boulder, Colo. When he tells you he needs to “follow his dream,” politely remind him dreams are fictional thoughts created while he sleeps through his alarm. When your daughter expresses interest in an all-girls Catholic college in the Swiss Alps, arrange for a charter jet.

▪ Somewhere in your basement is your high school grade card, circa 1975. Find a shredder immediately.

▪ In the universe of high school sports, from the parental perspective, cross country is the best; football, the worst. When it comes to academics, high school debate should be non-negotiable.

▪ Whoever said quitting is for losers never had a son play rugby.

▪ Getting cut from a team sport is the best life learning experience your child can have. Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.

▪ The only adults who think a high school spring break trip is a good idea are travel agents.

▪ At some point in high school your son will attempt to persuade you that he should celebrate his 18th birthday on Friday night in your walk-out basement with “some friends.” At that moment, find a fire alarm and pull it.

▪ His phone will die will you need to find him the most. Your daughter’s phone has sufficient power to fuel the space shuttle.

▪ Adults who claim they are tough parents usually aren’t.

▪ When your 18-year-old son says “dad, trust me,” get up, go into a dark room, lock the door, and repeat this sentence: “The fully developed part of his brain is the size of a pea.” Then you’ll know what to do next.

▪ If your son is your best friend, you need to find new friends.

▪ The book ‘Queen Bees and Wanna Bees’ by Rosalind Wiseman is must reading for any parent raising daughters.

▪ The night before you son takes the ACT, take his keys and hide them where he will never find them — in the ACT prep book.

▪ Parents who brag on their kids tend to have few friends. Kids who brag on their parents have no friends.

▪ High school football games are best enjoyed when your son isn’t playing.

▪ Sunday church, and the drive to and from, is the optimal time to find out things your son normally won’t tell you.

▪ When your son heads out on a Friday night, reduce the do’s and don’ts talking points to one. Just one. When your daughter heads out, the number is 20.

▪ Every Scout troop has an adult leader who is nuts. Or as my sons would say “sooooooo creepy.” Invariably, that guy will be the merit badge counselor for the last merit badge your son needs to make Eagle Scout.

▪ Some of my best father/son memories involve camp outs in the rain.

▪ As a father, the proudest I have ever been of my sons and daughter are those times when they sit down with their grandparents and demonstrate a penchant for being respectful, thoughtful, intelligent and conversational young men and women.

Freelance columnist Matthew Keenan writes on alternate weeks. His book “Call Me Dad, Not Dude, the sequel” is sold at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Visit his blog at matthewkeenan.com or e-mail him at mattkeenan51@gmail.com.

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