My three children amaze me every day. Savannah plays Club Soccer, runs on the Varsity Track and XC team as a Sophmore, is one of the leaders of her HS soccer team, is ranked 3rd in her graduating class and participates in a host of extracirucular activities. Courtney is #1 adademically in her 8th grade class, plays on the school Volleyball team and a traveling team and runs Track. She’s also going to play Water Polo this Fall. Douglas last year played up in AAA Little League baseball where he was one of two 8-year olds to pitch. This year he’s playing great baseball, was the leading scorer in Fall soccer and just nails it in his 3rd grade class.

I get to talk to a lot of parents of really cool kids. Inevitably many will ask me what the secret is to raising super overachievers. I seem to always answer “I really don’t have much to do with it”.

I thought I was being modest. But lately I’m realizing there is much more to it than that. When my kids were younger Janet and I controlled every aspect of their lives – what they ate, when they slept, how much TV they watched, pretty much calling all the shots.

I’m beginning to see thing in my children that are surprising. Yes, there are things that don’t surprise me – that my teenage daughters don’t listen to 90% of what I say, or they argue about the stupidest things, or that they love to read, or that they are exceedingly polite to others.

But there is more to it. Things my kids do surprise me. Watching Courtney break and go deep corner on the soccer pitch and just pile-drive the ball to far post and into the net. Seeing Savannah go thru a hurdle workout and work harder than anyone else out there to find ways to lower her PR. Watching Douglas lead his baseball team on the field and demand, relentlessly demand, that his teammates play their best. I don’t know where this comes from.

At sone point of Parenthood there is only so much you can do. I guess all you can do is to expose them to the world, teach them to think & be curious, help them with their manners, and be themselves.

We need to treat our kids not as property that we own and control. At some point we let them go and find themselves. As a parent that’s hard, but as a widower that’s triply hard because they’re the most precious thing in my life and I don’t want to lose them.

I know my kids will do fine when they venture out into the word and navigate right and wrong. Darwin had it right when he said survival of the fittest. Competition does drives excellence.