Parents on social media are conditioned to talk publicly about their children in a very specific way. We showcase their accomplishments for the “she’s amazing” comments. We upload pictures of the boo-boo on their knee to hear “get better, little guy.” We share their artwork for “prodigy” feedback.

There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s normal. Even if it is a little weirdly competitive.

Like most parents, I’m proud of my kids too, and share our lives together often. And, sure, I share for some of those same reasons mentioned above (#human). But the thing that mesmerizes me most about being a parent, is watching their growth as people. Seeing them transition from childhood to young adult is a remarkable case study. Particularly the characteristics that have remained constant.

You’ve no doubt said to your child, “I know you better than you know the back of your hand.” or something. I remember hearing that when I was a kid. I was always like [mumbling], “You THINK you know me …” And I’m sure my kids think the same thing.

But it’s true. You pick up on their triggers, their passions, the way they treat other people. Their inescapable truth.

Sometimes, when the stress just gets too heavy, even the most perfect parent with a picture-perfect family comes in here and says something like, “Oh, the girls are bickering again. Calgon take me away!” Bickering is a nice word. It means fighting. The  same way “raised voices” means yelling. My kids fight. Not all the time, mind you, but they’re both strong-willed (aka stubborn) people who don’t give in easily. Yes, these two people love each other. Dearly. They’re sisters. They’ve shared the same bedroom their whole lives (and probably will for another few years unless we move). They love each other. But man, they also fight. And sometimes those fights get mean. And sometimes the whole family gets involved and there’s “raised voices” all over the house.

But here’s the thing, that’s the only time either of them are unkind to another human being. That I know of, I mean. I’m sure there are rumors out there about one of them not being so nice, and, in fact, quite the opposite. Oh well. I have a pretty good feel of who these two people are, and if there’s one thing that has remained constant in each of them, it’s empathy. Even though one is more outwardly empathetic than the other, it’s a deep vein that runs in both our daughters.

“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.” – Prince

And that’s the thing I’m most proud of about our kids. Because you can’t fake empathy. It’s as true as the sunrise. And a foundation of truth isn’t such a bad thing upon which to build a life.

Just one word-of-warning though, don’t cross either of them. I’m serious. They’re Scots-Irish-Italian-American and have short fuses. The passion of empathy goes both ways. It’s funny like that. It doesn’t know indifference.

the pride


Jim Mitchem

George Carlin on the American Dream

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.