Jeff Hay thinks parents should lead by example—and that you can learn a lot about a person from the way they handle a bar stool.
I had time to kill waiting for a friend at a pub.
I knew no one in the pub, yet sitting on that bar stool, on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, I received one of the best pieces of parenting advice ever from an Irish gent sitting two bar stools away.
Long story short, after awkward introductions we struck up a lively, animated conversation about our families. When I mentioned to him that I was a writer, interested in parenting from a dad’s point of view, my new friend Danny (imagine that) said that all he ever wanted to do was to “raise a son that I’d like to have a drink with!”
At first, the skeptic pessimist in me assumed Danny would likely have a drink with anyone, but then I realized what he really meant. He was so right.
His theory was so simple, yet it encompassed so many of my core values.
If I was to picture myself in a pub sometime in the future, and in walks a familiar stranger that sits on the stool beside me …
(if the pub/alcohol angle of this piece bothers you, pretend you are both sipping on blueberry pomegranate smoothies with flax, tofu, and the protein blaster added)
- I would want to hang out with someone that was cool, socially aware, confident, and interesting.
- I would value their intelligent conversation and their genuine interest in me and the world around us.
- I would relish their positive energy, quick wit, and active listening.
I would not want to have a drink with someone that kept interrupting me, complained too much, and was not polite to me or the staff.
I would quickly distance myself from someone that was belligerent and only talked about themselves.
I would not want to spend any time at all with someone that was narrow minded, opinionated, racist, or homophobic.
This list could go on and on, but I think you know what I mean.
In life, you want to surround yourself with positive, happy, genuine people, not idiots and energy suckers.
Just like not wanting to spend five hours on a golf course with a jerk, everyone’s time is precious, and like Grandpa Orval always says, “Nobody likes an A-Hole”.
So moving forward as a dad, I apply Danny’s wisdom to my life and parenting philosophy. I realize that if I want to raise my children to be great, all-around balanced people, I need to be all those positive things NOW! They need to see it live and in person!
Like Gandhi uttered, be the change you seek.
I will continue to be genuinely interested in their lives and the world.
I will demonstrate real listening, social intelligence, and compassion.
While I am not responsible for their happiness, I will lead by example and choose kindness.
I will raise a son that a friend would love to have a drink with. And so should YOU!
I’ll drink to that! Sláinte (to your health), Danny Boy!
Image: Flickr/Bracketing Life