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Just a Guy Saying Raising Kids Takes Luck

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Luck. It isn't just a factor in Vegas. It's a factor in everything in life. And I believe it's one of the biggest influences in how our kids turn out.

Father and Son laughing together

Bruce Sallan: Yes, every yuppie thinks they will do it better than every generation before, and many of us do make parenting a bigger priority, but I assert it also takes luck!

Coming from a showbiz background, I saw how luck was a contributor to so many people's success. Why did one actor "luck out" and get a career-making role like J. Lo in "Selena" while another whose name we don't even remember got their "break" in what turned out to be a flop? Luck.

Cosmo, the wonderful Donald O'Connor, star of "Singin' in the Rain," sang "Make 'Em Laugh" in that seminal musical number, but I say "Give 'Em Luck," for life and kid success. A little laughter along the way won't hurt, though. In fact, I'd suggest watching that number whenever you need a lift. We all know parents that have done everything "right," yet have kids who are addicts, failures at school, and more. We also know many lazy, lousy parents whose kids turned out great.

I don't believe we should just rely on luck, but don't discount it either. And, don't beat yourself up when your kids disappoint and blame yourself or your spouse, or your divorce, or your own problems. That can make a difference, of course, and we all should do our best job at parenting. Luck is a non-negotiable, uncontrollable factor, but what do I know? I'm just a guy.

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17 comments so far | Post a comment now
Denise November 14, 2009, 8:10 AM

Bruce - Luck is sure a factor in my life. When will it get good? LOL. As for me, explain Renee Zellweger? How’d SHE ever make it? We call her “pucker face” - she doesn’t even have the looks?! Maybe there wasn’t luck but a “godfather?” That does happen in showbiz, too, doesn’t it? And, is that making your own luck?

Lucky November 14, 2009, 12:30 PM

I’ve been lucky - some luck I’ve worked for or created and sometimes things just turned out well. And while we should appreciate good fortune when we have it, we shouldn’t hide behind bad luck or wait for good luck when most of our luck still comes from hard work and effort (and that includes parenting). And even when luck hasn’t gone our way, we can still work to turn a sow’s ear into a purse!

Bruce Sallan November 14, 2009, 1:27 PM

Well said Lucky. I don’t think anything I’ve said actually differs from what you commented. And, thanks for making the comment!

Travis R November 16, 2009, 11:25 AM

Although I do not have the life experience you have, I can still easily relate to this blog post. There are many times where I have asked myself, “How did I get so lucky?” I know at least in the work place there have been times when have not known the answer or solution to a customer’s problem/question, and out of what will seem like nowhere or nothing, a solution will arise. I have many of the skills I need to recover the data, but I can honestly admit, there are many times where it is purely luck.

Loren November 17, 2009, 1:26 PM

Luck definitely plays a role in how our kids turn out. Being in the right place at the right time, that’s luck, but perhaps recognition of an opportunity that luck brings your way and what you or your child does with that opportunity is more the point. That’s where I think solid guidance from the parents comes in. Children/teenagers need their parents to be parents not friends. We just need to make sure that when luck comes knocking our kids are there to take advantage of it!

Bruce Sallan November 17, 2009, 2:25 PM

Loren - you’re one smart cookie. I hope some lucky guy appreciates you!

philippe perebinossoff November 20, 2009, 5:47 PM

I think one can make one’s own luck to a certain extent, but it is kind of scary when something like in The Bad Seed happens and bc of bad luck a child turns out to be a “bad seed”.

Bruce Sallan November 21, 2009, 7:43 AM

Funny that you, Philippe, would make a movie reference! Philippe is an old friend from my days at ABC and afterward and, now, a professor. Eclectic and bright, I value his thoughts. Thanks Philippe!

Anita (England) November 22, 2009, 9:10 AM

This was an interesting blog, Bruce. And one I wasn’t sure I’d know how to answer. I know what you mean when you say luck just drops at the right moment and we have to grab it when it does. But I look at luck in a most different way. I do believe we, as parents, can give our children something better than ‘material’ luck and that is just to be there for them. I have ‘four’ – yes, I still count the baby who died as my fourth child (nutter that I am) – amazing children. I am a very proud mum. I brought them up to appreciate the world around them, and to treat others how they want to be treated. I am most pleased with their gentleness towards others – maybe that’s why they have so many friends. The luck, the true luck, as I see it, comes because they have come through some sick times, seen sick times in the family – some most heartbreaking – but it’s made them really appreciate life. As for those who don’t … now, that is another blog…

bruce Sallan November 22, 2009, 9:31 AM


I agree with you. Luck is a factor sometimes. Good upbringing is also a factor “sometimes.” I think the model we show our kids is a big deal in how they ultimately behave. While I’ve never understood it, the fact that many abused kids become abusing parents is just because that’s what they know! So, I think the same thing applies to kindness, to how we treat our spouses, how we treat the waiter or waitresses at restaurants - they see everything we do. So, being the best parent we can be is still the best thing to do. That said, luck comes in far too much in my opinion.

Anita (England) November 22, 2009, 10:39 AM

You are so right. The ‘material’ good luck, as I call it, the ‘being in the right place at the right time’, is something most strange. I do believe our life is mapped out – but I also believe that we have to encourage luck. If we don’t go knocking, luck can’t come knocking.

Bruce Sallan November 22, 2009, 6:38 PM

I agree, but there are too many instances of someone getting “hit by a bus” that you have to shake your head and wonder or, better still, the good suffering and the bad thriving - which is the eternal question and why I hope there’s a just G*d ultimately! Now, we’re getting HEAVY, b*a*b*y!

David December 7, 2009, 7:46 PM

Supposedly Napoleon, when receiving recommendations from advisors about whom to promote to the rank of general, would say, “Yes, yes, I appreciate the he is talented, but is he LUCKY?”

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