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9.16.2005

What Matters

One of the things that I feel is most important for parents to pass along to their children is a sense of what matters - what's meaningful, what makes sense, what is valued for time and resources and priority. With so many ways to waste ourselves each day, how do we make sure that what needs to get done gets done, that what's important takes a place of importance in our schedules? In order to "pass it along", what do I need to change in my own life to get this one "right"?

Our son has a problem with prioritizing. Very bright, great reader, loves to play video games - and is getting poor grades on tests and homework because right now, everything for him is something that gets in the way of what he really wants. Get through the math test so he can draw and doodle. Get through the vocabulary test so he can read his book. Get through homework as fast as he can so he can play games. Everything else is a speed bump to getting what he wants.

The goal as I see it is to help him change he wants, change what he values and help him see how things need to work. I think he's smarter than I was at his age, able to grasp what's being thrown his way. So it's going to be easier to blow things off and give second-best. I'm hoping his attitude changes: wanting to learn, wanting to do well, wanting to please us and his teachers and learn all he can. My study habits were terrible, and I didn't find out how bad until college. Time to train him now, let him see the fruit of doing his best now so that later on it'll be that much better for him, that much easier. It's like this: take ten minutes to rush through your math homework, and spend the next twenty going back through each problem he gets wrong to figure it out again. Thirty minutes before getting to play - or rather, if he would take his time, take fifteen minutes to slow down and double-check, then we get to the games and books and drawing faster. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, and worth doing your best.

And yeah, I need that lesson, too.

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