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  • Writer's pictureBassam Tarazi

Parenting Philosophy From A Recovering Man-Child

Child's hand in father's hand

If you read my post about surrogacy, you know that my wife and I went deep into the emotional and financial well to have a family. If you didn’t know already, it worked! Our son, Zayn, just turned 6 months old. The early months have been a goulash of emotions, as any parent will tell you, and it’s amazing to see a personality starting to sprout out of his grunts and giggles. I can’t wait to talk to him. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks. 


And I know those early interactions will remind me of the incredible responsibility and burden all parents feel to “raise your kids right.” 


What is right? What is our job as parents? What do we really want for our kids in life? Not, what do we want out of being a parent, but what do we want for them? What’s the goal of this whole sleepless enterprise? 


At its core, parenthood is about being a safety net for your kid until they can be their own—or build their own. I want my son to leave the nest and thrive in the world as he sees fit, ASAP. 


Of course, ASAP is decades away. I’m not saying he should start paying rent and cleaning chimney chutes at 8-years old—quite the contrary, having an actual childhood is part of being a high functioning adult—and of course I want to have an ongoing relationship with him filled with milestones and memories, but the goal for any parent is to transition from being your child’s primary lever into their emergency lever sooner than Finally! Think about it…wouldn’t you rather have your child already autonomous and happy at 25 years old, than crawling out of your basement for the first time at 40?


Both for their sake and yours.


Until that autonomous day, the IRS has a useful term for what my son is: dependent; or, someone whose safety and questionable decisions I’m still legally and/or financially responsible for.


Ok, So What Now?


To transition my son to independence, there’s work to be done. He’ll need to learn how a safety net is fortified through self-reliance and strong relationships. His mother and I will have to show him the importance of shared meals, a sound body, and unstructured play. We’ll have to shower him with love and give him the space to be curious. We’ll have to be stern but fair. We’ll have to listen. We’ll have to guide. Eventually, we’ll see the threads of agency, resilience, and community signaling to us that his net might actually hold his own weight. 


I’m sure seasoned parents will tell me that there are countless routes to get your kid to the promised land of self-sufficiency and decency, but there’s only one problem with having kids later in life (ok, there’s more than one). You see, when you have a kid in your mid twenties, there’s a certain sense of jumping into the deep end. You don’t have much figured out, so why not add parenthood into the dough you’re kneading that includes your career, yourself, and your relationships?


But by waiting to have a kid into my mid 40’s, I am no longer malleable to come what may. In fact, the relentless 20+ year flow of operating in the real world while being the center of my universe has carved out a particular adult in me: the adult child. 


(Hey let’s face it, we all have an inner sh!thead. This is mine.)


I’ve mastered how to influence without exhaustion while still building a career and a community. I’ve figured out that at times, adulthood is a game of white lies, protected bandwidth, and cultural hedging. I know when I need to be a team player and when I need to be perceived as a team player.


Positioning, persuasion, leverage. Nuance is how the soup really gets made. 


But all this deep knowledge of the nooks and crannies of life, and how to defeat various “bosses,” doesn’t help my son out yet, as he’s in World 1, Level 1, just figuring out how the controls work.


It’s like, the older you get, the further you are from the basic building blocks that make up a decent adult, but to have a child is to trudge out in the rain and explain foundations. Be kind. Share. Follow the rules. Standing out in the elements I realize that kids don’t teach us anything, they remind us what we take for granted. So while my goal is to prepare my son to thrive in the world, on his terms, maybe having a child is exactly what I needed to save me from my selfish self.


Maybe you’re always a kid until you have your own. 


So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be out in the muck, happily explaining gravity.

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