Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Ultimate Responsibility of Parents

By Anthony Pellegrino

March 13, 2010

As you read this article, recall when we were sixteen or seventeen years old, young, healthy, and full of cockiness. Life was a bowl of cherries. We felt that we would live forever and do anything we wanted. Some of us dropped out of high school because we already knew everything. Why finish high school? The rest of us who stayed in high school were happy that it was about to end. We’d get a high paying job or go to college. We had it made.

We never heard the high school graduation speaker say that this is “not a graduation but a commencement.” A few of us headed for college; many of us headed for government jobs, and the rest of us just decided to drift—no skills, no jobs. But slowly the strain of the years began to wear on us. We became adults. We began to question whether we had made the right decision with our life. Are we happy and satisfied with what we have accomplished since those youthful days? Are we doing well or are we disappointed with our decisions and the path we have traveled? We know we messed up, but we feel it is too late to change

What if someone who loved us—a parent, a relative, a teacher—someone—had sat down with us and had helped us chart a course from adolescence to adulthood, would we be successful? What if we had had a strong, guiding hand that directed us to go to college or learn a skill, would we be better-off? Think back did anyone motivate us? Or were we left alone to drift and find our own lonely way?

I am referring to the futures of our children who are sixteen or seventeen. Are making the same decisions we had to at their ages? Do we assume our responsibility to them and motivate them properly?

As we continue to recollect our youth, once filled with exuberance and promises, is our path the same path we want our children to follow? Do we tell them that the life we are living is the best? Have our dreams have been fulfilled?

If we are truthful, we will tell them that we wish we had had someone who could have guided us? If only our parents, a teacher or someone who was interested in us would have sat down and told us with us that you need an education or learn a trade.

In a few months, many seniors will be graduating from high schools, and over fifty percent will drift along without a plan or goal. What will be their future and the future of our country since they will be replacing us? Are we going to let them make major decisions without any guidance at such a young age which will affect their entire life?

I recall my personal life when I graduated from high school. At eighteen I wanted to go into the entertainment industry in New York City. I was definitely not going to go to college.

After pleading with my father, he agreed to let me go. However he made deal with me. If I would attend a barber school in New York City and learn barbering while trying to break into show business, he would help me. He said if in my first love, I could still get a good paying job.

After two long years of trying to become an entertainer, I realized that I didn’t have the necessary talent but, I did earn a barber license. Upon returning home defeated, I decided to go to college. I finally realized I wasn’t so smart after all. As a result, I became a barber and attended college at the same time. How I bless my father for pushing me to learn a trade that carried me over hard times when I was young. I was fortunate to have wonderfully devoted parents. My father had worked hard all his life and had experienced what it meant to be person without a skill or trade. Coming from Sicily, he was very poor in English and could barely read and write. He insisted that I learn a profession to get a decent paying job.

Just to feed and clothe them is not enough. We must feed their minds and souls just as we feed their stomachs. We, parents, must insist that our children better themselves. We must instill a sense of drive and ambition to better themselves. It is my and your responsibility that we insist that they exceed us. Together with our children we must plan the major decisions that will lead them from youth to adulthood. We must lead them down roads carefully chosen so later in life; they don’t feel as so many of us feel today: “How I wish I had taken a different path through life.” Remember every son will replace his father and every daughter will replace her mother. Do we want them to be on a higher level than us or not?

In the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost, a young person comes to a fork in the road and must decide which way to go. Though both roads look at first sight equally good, he decides to take a lesser traveled road which later in his life makes all the difference:

What will our children say about the road they took years later? Will we have guided them or will they stumble along and wish that a parent, a teacher, a friend, a relative—someone—had guided them?

When they leave our nest will they be able to soar high like eagles enjoying the panoramic view? Helping them to make the major decision is our ultimate responsibility as a parent. Let’s do it!

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