Good Precepts

“…for I give you good precepts:    do not forsake my teaching.”  – Proverbs 4

I’m not a bible reader, or remotely religious.  I ran across the above biblical quote when looking for inspiration for this post.  Forget about it being sacred, I just find it funny that even thousands of years ago, dads were trying to get their kids to f**king pay attention to the wisdom of their elders.  It is the premise of every family oriented sitcom, the dad dispensing hard-won advice to kids who “know better”, from Father Knows Best to The Sopranos.

I suppose every parent wishes their kids would listen more, and absorb the parental pearls of wisdom that we believe lead to some definition of success.  It rarely happens.  I know because, well, I can barely think of one useful thing my dad ever said to me.

My daughter is a remarkable kid. She is on the autism spectrum.  There have been many times I’ve hoped to have a meaningful conversation with her, only to be stymied by her inability to focus, pay attention, and comprehend what I have to say.  Some parents say advice goes in one ear and out the other.  With my daughter, words go in and fall into a jumble of letters, perhaps inspiring a non-sequitur in response as the letters disintegrate into fairy dust.

But she does read, so a few months ago I began writing down a series of “good precepts,” wise and perhaps useful advice.  I have some vague hope that she will someday run across this and tell me it was useful.  Or maybe you, dear reader-who-is-not-my-daughter, will find these things useful.

  1. People will reliably disappoint you, in so many ways.  But hey can also surprise you in unexpectedly great ways.
  2. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but none will please the cat.
  3. Winning is great. It isn’t everything, but it is still pretty great. Be proud, and never ashamed, of your successes.
  4. The people who matter will stick with you, but never take their love and support for granted.  You don’t have the right to use other people because they love you.
  5. I try to live an honest life, but haven’t always been honest. Honesty is harder than you think.  Honesty can hurt, in ways only love can heal.

I have more of these, but if you are like my daughter – or are my daughter – you probably have had enough for now.

How about you?  Do you have things you want your child to know that they just won’t listen to?  Share in the comments.



About Chris van Hasselt

I eat, sleep, play guitar...but wait, there's more!
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