With loss, success takes on new meaning

This week began with the passing of two giants in American culture. On Sunday, our country lost Ric Ocasek, founding member, lead singer/songwriter of the late 1970s band, The Cars. If you lived during the late 1970s and ’80s, the Cars’ first album was ubiquitous on American radio. “Good Times Roll” and “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” were songs that pulled together all kinds of great musical influences.

Marketed as a “new wave” band, the Cars’ first album was pretty much straight up rock & roll. For me, it opened up some other musical doors. Ocasek’s passing reminded me of how short life is and how impactful our lives can be on others. What also is interesting is how long it took Ocasek to “make it” in the music business. He was well into his 30s before that first album hit the airwaves. By then, he was a master of song writing and performance.

Then, two days later, we learned about the death of the journalist Cokie Roberts. There have been some great obituaries that have noted her significant impact on modern-day journalism. Her career spanned to the present, but as I was coming of age intellectually and politically in the 1970s and ’80s, Cokie Roberts was one of my favorite TV journalists. On any news talk show, she was a force, asking tough probing questions and not being intimidated by power. She was on a morning talk show just a few weeks ago, and she was a giant among the other talking heads and political spin masters.

Her life serves as an important reminder of the value of hard work and courageous investigation. She also rose to national attention in an era when women did not get many opportunities in that field. She upheld the public trust in ways that we do not always see with the modern media. I particularly enjoyed how she weaved her personal story into her work in appropriate and inspiring ways. For those who care about American politics and history, we have lost an important voice.

The passing of important figures in our own lives often leads us to think about how those people came to have the success and impact that they did. Success later in life begins with a good foundation and good support early on. I thought I would share this piece from the New York Times entitled “How to Help Your Child Succeed at School.” The article offers straightforward and common-sense advice and is worth reading, including these do’s and don’ts.

• Focus on the process, not the product
• Encourage kids to self-advocate
• Keep a long-term perspective
• Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
• Love the child you have, not the child you wish you had.

• Overschedule
• Worship grades
• Encourage helplessness
• Compare kids to one another
• Love kids based on their performance

By employing some of these strategies, you can help raise a child with creative and critical thinking skills to have the qualities of people like Ocasek and Roberts.

We are always encouraging parents to adopt a long-term view of child rearing. Too often, I see parents get caught up in the drama of the latest child or adolescent emergency. As someone who now has kids in college, I learned that things tend to work out. The challenges kids face on their journeys are all part of the pathway to adulthood. Keeping calm and engaging in the positive process of listening, rather than reacting, can help your child develop that independence that will serve them well.

I hope to see all of you at Homecoming this weekend. I am excited to decorate my bike for the annual Lower School bike parade. Go Mustangs!