By Lew Avera
Recently I wrote “Looking Back is Sometimes Looking Forward,” dividing my life into two equal segments. Among the events of both segments was having and raising a family. It was among many aspects, challenges and rewards of life, but no priority or inequity was put on any segment.
Last week we celebrated Father’s Day, and this led me to an entirely new perspective on these life events. As a result of this day, I became more focused on my children, who are now long-since grown adults, and began to realize that their success has been the most important feature and responsibility of my life. This focus is not only just on my four children, but also their seven children, my grandchildren.
I have three daughters and one son. The son has never married, but the three daughters have produced seven grandsons and one granddaughter, just the reverse of my three girls and one boy.
Their mother, who had equal and profound influence on their lives, also worked hard in developing their values. She was also the major factor during my absences in the military and business worlds. I participated in sports with all of them, pushed them to do their best in everything, and both of us constantly encouraged their focus on education. As a result of this, I think we set the stage for their eventual successes. All four of them graduated from major universities, which launched them into successful professional careers prior to their major roles as parents.
What brightens all of this is now the success of the oldest three grandchildren. One graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, one from UC Berkeley, and one will finish CalPoly-SLO next year. The oldest two are in extremely successful professional careers. The remaining four are doing very well in school and looking forward to their next steps in life.
Coming back around, this is not intended to be about “education” as the be-all/end-all of life, but about the role and influence of us parents in the success of our children. It is the most important thing to them, but above all, it’s the most important thing in our own lives as well. I know all of us parents want to feel this way. And, the challenges our children face have never been greater.
Reflecting the above I once told my oldest daughter—mother of the above—that I was more proud of her children than I was of her. This exploded; however, what I meant to imply was that she had done a better job of raising her children than I had of raising mine. I was advised on how I could have said it differently, and I wanted to make a meaningful point with her that she understands and appreciates.
To all parents, know that your children will be the most important things in your entire life, and you will be rewarded for your continuing efforts in helping them succeed. Mine were/are more important than all of my life experiences, military decorations and recognition, public service awards, successes, etc. The challenges facing parents today are enormous, but parenting will be the decisive factor in the success of our children in today’s difficult and challenging world.
Lew Avera is a retired career officer, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps. He has been a director of the Talega HOA since 2003 and served on the San Clemente Planning Commission from 2005 to 2013.