Raising kids, like many things in life, involves many factors but luck is a key factor. Raising kids takes a lot of luck. I’ve faced recent reminders about this when I attended the Bar Mitzvah of a young man with severe learning disabilities, whose parents had the poor luck that he had these problems. Or, the recent visit from my best friend who shared a conversation he just had with his wife in which they were each trying to figure out what they did wrong that resulted in their three adult children lacking any career focus in their lives. And, finally, the two men I know who are suffering the horrors of dealing with late teen or young adult drug addicts.
In the world of show business, to illustrate another world and example, do you really think the big stars in Hollywood are the most talented? While I love Jennifer Lopez and do indeed think she is quite talented, there was a certain degree of luck that they were making a movie about the life of Selena when J.Lo was just beginning her career. If her first movie had been a flop, would we be seeing her in every celebrity magazine?
(Please note that this is revised version of an older column, but one that holds a lot of value, in my opinion. I am still “matched” with both my “little brother” and mentor the young man with the genetic illness. I can say it’s not easy, either of these relationships, but I know it’s making a difference in their lives. It also costs me some money, but it’s my way of giving charity rather than writing a check to an organization)
One of the clichés about volunteerism is that “you get more than you give.” In my case, it was true in ways and means I least expected. I’ve just become a Big Brother and mentor, again, to a 7-year-old boy and a mentor to a 23-year-old young man. As these relationships are new, I don’t yet know what lessons I will learn. But I know well the lessons I learned the first time around.
I became a Big Brother long before I was married or a parent. My life, at that time, was pretty heady. In my early 30s, I had a successful showbiz career in which I was paid way too much for having so much fun. I lived in a lovely home in a chic part of town, had two cars, and no one to worry about other than myself.
One of the clichés about volunteerism is the fact that you often get more than you give. In my case, it was in ways and means I least expected. I’ve just become a Big Brother, again, to a 7-year-old boy and a Mentor to a 22-year-old young man. As these relationships are new, I don’t yet know what lessons I will learn. But, I know well the lessons I learned the first time around.
I became a Big Brother, long before I was married or a parent. My life, at that time, was pretty heady. In my early 30’s, I had a successful showbiz career in which I was paid way too much for having so much fun, I lived in a lovely home in a chic part of town, had two cars, and no one to worry about other than myself.
The journey from child, to teen, to young adult to parent seems to have similar stops along the way for most everyone. When I was in college, during the “age of stupidity,” as a man I greatly respect refers to the 60’s and early 70’s, as a “love child” and soon-to-be yuppie, I was thoroughly convinced that I would be a different parent to any children I might have than my parents were to me.
Naturally, I had ALL the answers. My parents’ tastes in music, fashion, politics, my Mom’s “helmet” style hair-do which required weekly visits to the hair salon, were all stupid, old-fashioned, and ugly! It was inconceivable to me that they didn’t “dig” or see how groovy The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, or The Stones were. The fact that most of them died of drug overdoses escaped me at the time (e.g. Brian Jones of The Stones in case you think I’ve missed something). The fact that Mick Jagger and his remaining “crew” still perform when our generation famously said not to trust anyone over thirty is also a lost irony on most of my AARP-aged contemporaries now.