A person I like and respect, and whose children I regard with great admiration and affection, granted me one of the greatest compliments by asking, “So, what do you think you did that helped your children turn into such wonderful young people?”
I had to contain myself from basking in that praise, then resist the temptation to recount my daughters’ worst moments with an “oh, you should see them fight at home!” because all of us have our moments, and if they’re rare enough those moments don’t count. Then, more soberly, I credited my amazing wife, as good a mother as has ever been.
Finally, I gathered my words and said, “We have always treated them with respect, and we demand respect in return.”
“I could dissemble,” I said. “Lots of supportive family, never give in to a tantrum, both practice and expect patience–and, oh sure, every night when it was time for bed I held them close and sang old Townes Van Zandt songs, so maybe that’s it: lullabies about Mexican gunfighters and sad, self-destructive prostitutes.”
And yep, I think that’s it.