January 12, 2010


Early on in our relationship, Bart commented on something I'd sort of taken for granted about my parents. "They're so interested in the thing things you do," he told me. "They ask questions about your projects, they go to all your events, they know what you're involved in."

He's right.

My parents had no exposure to Forensics (the speech and debate type, not the blood and gore in a lab type), but when I joined the team (at my mom's prompting), they came along to nearly every competition and judged (having judges was part of my grade). They would talk about which events they liked judging best, which students were particularly good, which ones they were kind of unimpressed by. They would come to the award ceremonies, even if I wasn't winning anything. They told all their friends about the "one-clap" rule.

I remember clearly my mom attending a dress rehearsal of The Little Prince (I was the prince, complete with Barbara Bush wig), because it looked like she'd be in Salt Lake with Shepard for radiation when the show actually ran. Looking back, I realize how much she must have had on her mind - she was going to be missing Christmas, the radiation probably was going to leave Shepard permanently somewhat mentally incapacitated, she'd be away from her home, her other four children, and her husband for weeks at a time, at a new hospital - and yet she sat through two hours of a (I'll be the first to admit, somewhat slow) high school dress rehearsal. She was interested in what I was doing. Even when the rest of life was crazy. (At the last minute, the doctors decided to hold off on radiation and try one last round of chemo, so my mom and Shepard didn't go to Salt Lake).

They're like that for my other siblings too. They go to Merrick's art shows, they drive to Utah to see the shows that Landen does the costume design for. They attend every last lacrosse and soccer game or swim meet that Crawford participates in. They make us feel important. They make us feel interesting.

That isn't to say they are helicopter parents or that they don't give us our space. For all of us, these are our own hobbies or talents, things we pursue, to a large degree, on our own. But they are always interested, always in attendance, always quick to encourage and support and cheer us on in person.

Since Bart has mentioned this, I've thought back to many of my friends whose parents loved them, of course, but seemed to have no real interest in their pursuits. They never came to their sporting events or theater performances or forensic tournaments. They hardly seemed to even know their children were involved in these things.

I think one of the best part about this trait of my parents is that because they've been so interested in our hobbies, our pursuits, our educations, we are willing to be interested in what they love or find fascinating.

When my dad sat us all down to watch a five minute clip from From the Earth to the Moon, we all paid attention. I went on to watch every episode (multiple times), some with him, some without him. When he has a place he wants to visit, or a tape to have us listen to, or a family project to work on, we're generally all in.

My mom liked to visit model homes when we were growing up. I think all three of us girls learned to really enjoy this, picking out what rooms would be ours, or where we'd put our doll funiture. When my mom passes along a book that she's enjoyed, we'll read it. When she wants to visit a store or try a new project or take a cake decorating class, we jump onboard.

If there is anything I can do as a parent, if there is anything Bart and I are determined to do, it's to let our kids know that we are interested in their lives, even when their interests are in areas we have previously had zero interest or affinity for. And, with any luck, they'll learn to love what we love too.


  1. Looks like I'm one of the first to comment.

    "My mom liked to visit model homes when we were growing up. I think all three of us girls learned to really enjoy this, picking out what rooms would be ours, or where we'd put our doll funiture." My mom and I (and later Mom, my daughter, and I or just daughter and I) did this clear up until just a couple of years ago!

    I'm not lecturing here - just commenting. Not all parents are able to take time off their jobs to go their children's events. I would have died if my parents had shown up at some of the functions/events. I wasn't embarrassed of them; I just wasn't comfortable having them there.

  2. Love your new look! This was a good post - hopefully for people to recognize and appreciate in thier own parents - if this was similar to their own experience or to cultivate it for their own parenting. I have noticed this in mine and my husbands families - I think it makes a huge difference in the level of closeness that you feel toward each other in families!

  3. a wonderful goal. I'd love to meet your parents, they seem amazing. Like the new picture of you and Bart - great glasses

  4. My parents were the same, as well. Well, still are. And I've always admired that about them. Thanks for helping me remember that.

  5. PS: I forgot to mention that I like the new header and look of your blog. (I sent you a reply to your email.) :)

  6. Glad your parents were supportive of you! :) I hope I can be that same way!

  7. "They make us feel important. They make us feel interesting."

    And you are! You ARE!

    EVERY child should feel important and interesting. You are right to want to emulate that trait. GO YOU GUYS!

  8. This is great. My parents were/are the same way and I fully intend to pass that on to our kids. And you're right, it goes both ways. I'm interested in their interests, too.

  9. I think I assumed for a long, long time that all parents were like this. I think it is good to distinguish between the parents that are interested in their children's lives versus those that live vicariously through their children. I knew some of the latter category and was so thankful that while my parents supported me and were interested in my efforts, they had their own interests separate from mine--I didn't feel like I had to validate them with my activities.

    Love the new look.

  10. Just recently, Josh's dad found an old driver's license under his couch (he doesn't move the furniture much, obviously) and started asking around if anyone knew the owner. Josh looked at him and said "Dad, that was my best friend in high school." Whoops!

    Obviously, those are not the only two options, but here's a vote for paying attention!

  11. you two will be great parents. ;)

  12. Here's a shoutout to all those moms (and dads) who would have given anything to have that involvement in their kids' lives but were forced to work through no choice of their own. In an ideal world Everyone gets to make choices which are based solely on what they really really want to do and not on what they MUST do...That being said, would that ALL kids had parents such as yours...

  13. I think you've touched on an underrated parenting skill/trait. Probably because many of our peers are new parents so this doesn't really apply yet in life. My parents were the same way, they became somewhat obsessed with our athletic endeavors and other pursuits. They NEVER missed games. Luckily their jobs allowed this but still, I sure didn't appreciate as much as I should have at the time!

  14. Definitely a wonderful goal!

    I think.. I may amend that, personally, for my own kids. And I say that because... I've taken up photography, right? And my dad shows an interest in that, because he enjoys photography too. But if I show him some pictures I take he goes, "Hmm. Not my kind of pictures." No compliments, nothing.

    My mom will tell me over and over again that she loves it, I'm talented, etc. I don't need that from my dad.. but I would like a bit of appreciation for my style of photography.

    So I hope that when I have a kid, if I can't completely adore their hobby, I hope I can find some common ground and appreciation.

    does that make sense?

  15. I always have appreciated how my parents were so involved in my life growing up. I was an only child so I thought it might be a privilege of parents whose attention is not divided. Congrats to your parents for sharing themselves among all the kids! My folks were always around at track meets etc. being the track team drivers and at one point driving all over the state, for overnight trips, all to be supportive. Still, some how, they pulled off not being "too much" and we had tons of fun. Hooray for the parents who can do it and for those who try the best they can!

  16. I know you will be good at doing all of those things, and that both you and Bart will be genuinely interested.

    I, for one, have an easy time (enjoyable time) being interested already in any events, or efforts that my kids do, but I have found I am not a very good listener. I have too much on my mind all the time, and tend to tune out the more monotonous of day to day details at school, etc. This is where I need to work on focusing interest, because it seems important to be interested in all aspects of their lives.

    Love the new header too!

  17. You have a sweet family, and I think you two will be great parents.

  18. I like the new look.

    Also, I think that's a good goal when you're a parent.

  19. How great to have such wonderful parents in your life!

  20. I think I'm going to publish the posts about your parents and make it a parent manual. It's no surprise they are so wonderful when one looks at how well you (and your siblings!) turned out.

  21. My parents are much the same way (although some interests took some convincing.)

    Interesting side note: last year when I taught parenting (ironic, I know: a clueless pregnant lady teaching a parenting class) we watched a video that talked about how to play with your infant/toddler. The same principle applied: let your kids play with the toys that interest them (not vice versa). Easier said than done.

  22. I remember a soccer game. Both kids were playing at the same field, one right after the other. Both sets of grandparents live close enough that they had been to several games but this time they each came to the same game. My BIL was visiting from out of town - he was at the game. My brother and his wife were visiting from out of town - they were at the game.

    One of the other player's parents asked if it was a special occasion and I was so pleased to be able to say no, they just wanted to see the kids play.

  23. My parents were like yours, always at everything and anything I was in, even at the football games I was only the videographer for (yes, I was an A/V/computer geek in school!). They were amazingly supportive and I hope to be the same for my kids.

    My wife, on the other hand, never had her parents at ANYTHING and it's obvious that while she brushes it off if asked, she really laments not having them show up and care what she was up to.


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