"As you know, I'm raising girls. As you also know, you've raised a couple girls yourself. Not that I think it ends when they leave home, but I figured that since you've gone through the middle and high school turmoils and it appears that you two have done an excellent job, that maybe I could get some advice from you".
".....I guess what I'm asking is, how do you tread the fine line of being a caring, concerned, loving parent, giving guidance and teaching life lessons vs. being an overbearing jerk and not allowing them to do anything they want and causing them to maybe go deeper into the very things you want to keep them sheltered from?
".....I'm asking you because I admire how your girls (and Nate) have turned out, and I look up to the relationship you have with them."
Talk about a humbling letter! Some day we will sit down with this dad and tell him all the rough spots and extremely difficult days we had -- and how people in our lives guided us through those days.
Because the truth is, we didn't "go it alone". Right out of the gate, when we were just married we sought out mentors - people who had already walked through the early years of marriage, the baby years, the adolescent years.
Mentors who were willing to share their successes and failures - who would tell us what they would do different. Not only were these mentors there for us as we raised our children, but for other paths in our lives ...buying a house, marriage stuff, jobs.
Sometimes our mentors (and teachers) cost us money ... like the psychologists and psychiatrists! But most of the time, we counted on the support from mentors. People we trust. People who are authentic and don't judge.
When we met Larry and Gail they were a few years younger than Kirk and I are now. They had children our age!
They were the "in town" grandma and grandpa (we lived 700 miles from our families) to our children. To this day, our kids still call them Grandma and Grandpa. In fact, they asked if we could all visit them in NY next summer.
The saying, "it takes a village to raise a child" is so true. I believe the more support you have as you raise kids, the more loving and caring adults a child/teen has in their life, the better.
The "younger dad" who sent the email to Kirk is a smart man. He knows he doesn't have all the answers, so he is seeking out someone who has been down the road before him. THAT is a wise man.
Kirk's role is to be honest and authentic. To share what he has learned (sometimes the hard way), and the mistakes he has made, and how he worked through them. He also will give encouragement and support.
Today's (unsolicited) advice: "Don't be afraid to apologize to your children and admit you were wrong".