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How a Run DMC Rapper Taught His Teen to Love Hard Work

Rocking a rhyme can be tricky, but not as tricky as making a sleeping kid wake up for school

Rapper Daryl Mac and his son
Courtesy: DMC

If you’ve ever tried to rouse a teenager from slumber on a school day or persuade them to have ambitions beyond becoming the next pro-athlete superstar, Darryl McDaniels feels your pain. The hip-hop pioneer is the proud papa of Darryl “Dson” Jr. Here, he lays out some tricks he’s used to turn an obstinate boy into a thoughtful young man.

Trick them into waking up early.

Discipline is a necessary factor in the development of a human being. I don't care if you want to be a painter or go to law school, all it takes is getting up a little earlier to be on time. 

I started showing up on time at school because my father set my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier. So, I started doing the same thing to my son. I told him, “This is not to make you miserable. You will remember why you became good at whatever it is that you do, and it’s because your father set the alarm clock 15 minutes earlier.”

Show them that the real success stories aren’t always in the spotlight.

I took Dson to see the New York Rangers because he wanted to be an NHL player. I started enlightening him. I would say, “D, you can have a career in the NHL without being a player. You see that guy over there? Yeah, that’s James Dolan. He owns the Knicks. He owns the Rangers. He owns Madison Square Garden.” 

I broke it down for him. I wanted him to realize, the people who make the biggest impact in this world aren’t always the superstars. They’re the ones behind the scenes. It’s OK to aspire to be somebody that nobody has ever heard of.

Instill your values, not your ambitions.

You're not really in control of your children's destiny. I've never tried to control anything. I could only say to my son, “This is what I did.”

Nine times out of 10, it goes wrong when a parent thinks, Because I did it, you have to do it.

My son chose music, but he fell into that on his own accord. I didn’t pressure him into it. I let him discover that passion for himself. The hardest part of being a parent is learning when to back off and let them make their own mistakes and find their own way. 

I'd rather teach my child values like honor, respect and discipline than force him to follow in my footsteps.

Don’t take the disrespect personally.

Growing up, you probably got really mad at your mother and father. You didn’t understand them or why they were doing what they did. You thought they were being unreasonable or unfair. But after you become a dad, it all starts to make sense. You appreciate what they were going through and why they did the things they did.

Just remember that the next time your kid gets mad at you. They don’t get it now, but trust me, they’ll get it someday. The respect is coming—you just have to be patient.