I have the most awesome kid in the world. I know every parent thinks that, but in my case I have empirical evidence to support the claim. At least once a week someone will approach me. It could be my son’s teacher or another faculty member at his school. It might be someone he bumped into in a buffet line at a restaurant or at the grocery store. But the message is always the same: “Your son is a really neat kid. He talks like an adult. I can’t explain it but there’s something special about him.”
I always chuckle and shake my head a little because, despite it being a regular occurrence, it never ceases to make me smile. My son is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know and he goes out of his way to acknowledge admirable things in the people around him. He’s great with younger kids and has an infectious laugh and enthusiasm for even little things he’s into. He’s very “present” in his own life in a way I certainly never was at his age.
I wish I could take credit for any of this but he’s been that way since the first moment he arrived. We have pictures of him as a baby where he’s looking right at the camera with as much focus and intention as a super model. He was walking at eight months and has never taken a nap in his life. He’s been on his game from day one, and mostly I try to stay out of the way and let him explore life in the safest possible environment I can create for him.
In short, my job is to create the safest, sanest, happiest environment I can for him in which he can grow up.
When people learn that I’m a Scientologist (and especially once they’ve spent some time around my son) they’ll often end up asking me questions about it. How does Scientology influence my style of parenting? Are there beliefs or religious practices that we strictly adhere to as a family? And the way I usually summarize it is this: my son is an immortal spiritual being who has been around probably as long as I have, which is to say a very long time. He’s also eleven years old at the moment and into everything a red-blooded American boy of that age is into. So he’s this beautiful dichotomy of “old-soul” wisdom and perspective, and unbridled, “anything-is-possible” youthful enthusiasm. When I talk to him, I try to speak to him as respectfully as I would any other person I admire. I have never talked down to him and I’ve always tried to take the time to thoroughly explain things to him—why I make the decisions I make, why we as parents set the boundaries we set, and how he needs to take more responsibility if he’s asking for more freedom.
In short, my job is to create the safest, sanest, happiest environment I can for him in which he can grow up. I need to incentivize him to be an adult (meaning if I give him total freedom but no responsibility, what the point of growing up?) so we talk a lot these days about what he can do to help our family in exchange for the help he receives from us. And, yes, some days he’s more interested in walking the dog than others. But I have been convinced since he was born, and I’m reminded daily, that he very often has more to teach me than I have to teach him. He expects me to be the best possible version of myself and I find it difficult to let him down.
As it is with any family, he has seen me at my worst moments and been gracious and compassionate and jaw-droppingly wise with some of the things he’s said to me when he feels like I’m being unreasonable. And always I work to navigate that delicate balance of being his father while also acknowledging that he’s a spiritual being and “father” and “son” are identities that inform us this lifetime but aren’t the full limit of our friendship and our bond.
I love my son more than I thought it was possible to love anyone. And I really won the lottery in finding him in particular. I use Scientology tools like the communication cycle, the ARC triangle, gradients and study technology every day with him and our relationship is much better and stronger for it. But mostly I just acknowledge him for being the remarkable person he is. I try very hard to listen and understand his viewpoints and to make sure he understands mine. And I’m so grateful that I have Scientology tools because my son deserves the best parents he can get, and my study and application of Scientology help me be the best version of myself for him.