“Coach ‘em up, and let ‘em play.” ~ Fred O. (Lico) García
Fred O. García is my dad. Even though he passed away almost 20 years ago, I turn to him often for advice. He taught his children how to live a productive life through anecdotes, analogies, and one-liners I call “Licoisms.” His simple philosophy on raising kids is one of my favorites.
He would say that you can’t start teaching values when kids are teenagers, people can learn values from the time they are babies. Together with my mom, they prepared my siblings and me for the tough road called life. He taught us the values of respecting ourselves and others, working hard, taking responsibility for our actions, and owning up to our mistakes. From mom, we learned to trust in God, love unconditionally, and give to others less fortunate.
My dad believed that once children have a strong foundation of values, parents should let them take risks and make mistakes. According to Lico, mom and dad’s role is to be there for more coaching to “help steer them back on track when they wander off.”
Recently, an old friend shared with me that her son was going to start the 8th grade in a few weeks. She commented how it seemed like he went from a little boy to a teenager from one day to the next. I told her that the transition from teenager to young adult happens just as fast. We chuckled and continued sharing stories about our kids.
Then, reality hit me. My daughter Marisa will drive back to Los Angeles soon to start junior year at Loyola Marymount University and Erica is entering senior year in high school. Both are taking big steps in their lives. Marisa and a few friends have rented an apartment off campus. We will move Erica into a college dorm room right around this time next year.
My chuckle quickly turned into concern. I’ve been around enough to know that college isn’t just about term papers, mid-terms, and finals. Alcohol, parties, and other unknown dangers lurk around every corner during down time. Outside the relative safety of campus security gates is a world filled with beauty, wonder, and yes, even bad influences, evil, and darkness.
I thought about how Sandra and I have taught the girls to be independent and confident. We’ve shared with them the values our parents shared with us. On a daily basis, Marisa and Erica make more decisions on their own as their transition to adulthood evolves. It’s easy to worry about external forces that could shape the rest of their lives.
After some more thought, my parents steered me back on track. Concern turned back into a chuckle. My parents were pretty good coaches. God has this figured out, and Sandra and I coach the girls the best we can. As Lico would say, now it’s time to “let ‘em play.”