The Biggest Prize
by on January 24, 2018 in Family

Hey friends… I’ve been wanting to write about this for the last couple weeks and have now finally found the time.

I want to share with you a personal experience that has enriched my life beyond measure. I’ve never won a grammy award, an Oscar, or anything like that. Yes, I’ve got a lot of trophies, gold and platinum records I’ve amassed, keys to cities, all kinds of things that sparkle if you walk in and see them on the walls, in book shelves and just strewn about in my studio…

But nothing compares to what I witnessed a couple of weeks ago. You see my youngest son is about 16 and a half years old right now. Being that I’ve missed a lot of his life while he’s been a child as well as my 19 year old, (almost 20), and my 2 stepchildren, (I’ve had them in my life since they were 4 and 6 so I hate even using that term stepkids), I might be hyper sensitive to what I experience these days because I know more than ever this beautiful life is fleeting.

As more and more of our friends, relatives and heroes move on, pass on, etc. for me, the wakeup call is constantly ringing… it’s almost as if it’s one of those town square bells not only keeps clanging away but the volume rises ever so slightly to keep reminding… and as I’ve written about a lot over the last several years… I don’t say that and certainly don’t mean to be morbid or morose in these thoughts… but really empowering… understanding deeply these truths… it makes me focus on living which means to be present… not staying in the past, (trying) to not worry about the future (that’s a tough one… I think that’s a normal human condition that is a constant work in progress)…

But these moments that happen like a couple weeks ago are such a beautiful gift to remind… to let me know I’m in the perfect place…

I dropped my son Connor off to his first day at work. I will always have this memory indelibly etched in my mind. The fact that most of these kids these days aren’t in a hurry to drive… they’d rather take an uber… or in my case, I always tell him, “I’m your personal uber!” and we laugh…

Again, the fact I’ve missed so much, this is my time to take it all in and believe me, I am. So he’s ready to go to work, I’m a bit nervous thinking, “He can’t be late! Is he ready? Do I need to let him know it’s time to go?” only to realize he’s got it covered… you see I’ve been studying parenting and most specifically modern parenting and it’s amazing what modern studies have revealed… and truth be told, I’m sure they’re not so modern, but for me they are…

But at the core of it all, when these kids are 16 years old… yes, they’re still young… yes, their brains are forming but they are growing exponentially… they are at a place where they are really expanding into their uniqueness… their individuality…

Man, it’s SO easy to get into the, “He’s just like me!” or “He SHOULD be just like me… I’ve been there… I have all the answers!” only to realize not only is that impossible but would we really want somebody or something to be completely like us? Where is the magic in all that? What about all this incredible stuff that our kids do and have that we haven’t a clue where they got?

When I get out of the way and let my kids, and people in general, be what and who they are it’s amazing. And that has come from being involved in this amazing experiment called being a father which requires being present, as in physically there.

So back to Connor’s first day at work I’ll just say this… we’ve had great talks about him getting a job, coming from him first… never in a way of a parent saying, “You gotta get a job!”. This was his desire… yes, one of his friends got the ball rolling… got a job and it was so beautiful to watch this happen and not being the *orchestrator* of it all! We, as parents let nature take care of itself and the next thing you know, my son goes in and fills out a work application. I remember when he told us and I was very happy… smiling deep inside.

And then, about a week or so later I hear he’s got an interview and I’m still smiling…

And then, I hear he’s got the job! And I’m telling you, that’s when the magic REALLY started to happen. I’ve never seen anybody get so focused, proactive and see the immediate changes in maturity and growth happen so fast. Completely different person virtually overnight… never had to, or have to, try and motivate him. He’s ON it.

When he was told he needed to take a *food handling* course online and was having trouble ordering it, yes, I stepped in when he needed help. But I’m telling you, again, it was SO amazing to watch him ravenously move forward to get this all taken care of.

And again, I’m looking at the modern studies of parenting and how we’re instructed to allow these kids to take responsibility… take ownership of their actions and lives… to help them take initiative… wow… it’s just unbelievable.

And what’s really important for me is to realize that a very common mistake is what they call *hovering* over the kids… *helicopter* parenting… to me, what that means is to be on top of every little aspect and nuance of what they’re doing… micro-managing every little thing they do… and one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is hearing an extremely profound phrase which for me rings so true.

“Every time I’m doing something for my son he can do for himself I’m basically sending him a message telling him I don’t believe he can do it. I don’t believe in him.” Wow…

Learning to let them learn…

So when I dropped him off for his first day of work, as I watched him walk up the walkway and open the door to walk in I knew, and he knew, he’d done it himself. He didn’t have *Daddy* filling out the forms for him. He didn’t have his parents nagging him to go out and get his work shoes, finish his online work. He did it all himself, WITHOUT prodding! Now he knows what he can do. What he’s capable of.

And you know what? I shot a video of it! He got out of my car and the minute the door closed I grabbed my phone and started shooting a video. I wanted to be able to recall this for the rest of my life. And he might like having that too.

At that moment I realized I had just been given one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. To witness this event… and I had to be present for it to happen. Not present? Missed, gone, forever.

I realized at that moment I’d received the biggest trophy/award/accolade in the world. And to be honest, I almost don’t even want to put it out there because it almost feels like bragging… but it’s not. It’s to share things, as I always have done throughout my life, that mean so much to me and have helped me. I’ve gotten so much feedback that it helps others so that’s why I do it.

So there it is friends… I say this raising a glass to going out there and collecting all the great memories and experiences! And I’d love to hear what anybody has to say about all this. If you have thoughts and experiences about any of this please comment below. And if you want to congratulate Connor please do so in the comments. I’ll show him!

133 Responses to The Biggest Prize

  1. Lori says:

    Well said. So inspiring Jason

  2. Kathie says:

    WOW!!!!! CONGRATS CONNOR!! Way to step up and show Dad, YOU got this!!

  3. Tim Baker says:

    What a story and it’s ok if you had gotten something in your eyes at that moment.Because as a fan I sure did and the reason is you have given me so much joy personally I could never put it into words.But looking back at what you missed and I only know this from being a father.I know you have a lot more great music coming from you in the future but I am so ecstatic that you are able to be there now.You are finally getting to enjoy being there daily and watching him become a man and he sounds like he’s on a great start.Keep enjoying these moments and keep watching that video.Thats the Grammy Award Of Life for sure

  4. Donna Valentiner says:

    Beautifully written Jason and Oh so true! There is nothing like watching your child become an adult. Feeling so many emotions at the same time-Happy for them, sad in some ways that they don’t need us as much anymore, yet pride for this new step on this ladder of life! A VERY proud moment indeed! Congratulations to Connor!!

  5. Marc Major says:

    Great story my friend. Live in the present. Make each day your masterpiece. The fact that at 16 he is where he is at really IS a reflection of the values as parents you have instilled. Sometimes we don’t always know if they are paying attention but when you model the right attitudes to your kids, it DOES make an impact.
    As to the future…yes we all think about what lies ahead but have Faith that God has a great plan in store for you and that your future is something to look forward to.

  6. PAT TARTACK says:

    CONGRATULATIONS CONNOR IT FEELS GOOD TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING ON YOUR OWN. IT IS SCARY TO PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE TO GET A JOB. I HAD TO GET A JOB AT 44 YEARS OLD AFTER BEING LAYED OFF (COMPANY MOVED) AFTER 18 YEARS. I AM NOW IN MY THIRD AND FINAL JOB I HOPE TO RETIRE IN LESS THAN 5 YEARS. TIME GOES MUCH TOO FAST JASON I AM TAKING OFF GOING TO PLAY BINGO WITH MY PARENTS AND THEIR FRIENDS DOWN THE SHORE AS MUCH AS I CAN BECAUSE MY DAD IS 89 AND MY MOM IS 86 AND I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER I WILL HAVE THEM. YOU WONDER WHERE THE TIME GOES LIKE THEY SAY AS YOU GET OLDER SO DO YOUR PARENTS AND YOU ARE RUNNING AROUND AND DON’T REALIZE IT. I TRY TO SPEND TIME WITH THEM. ENJOY YOUR CHILDREN AND YOUR LIFE GLAD YOU ARE HOME TO ENJOY THEM.

  7. Jamie Bruhn says:

    Great post Jason!!! Thanks for sharing and kudos to Connor! Love being a parent and these are proud moments.

  8. Chris says:

    Congratulations Connor and Jason! That’s fantastic. I’m glad you were there, Jason, to witness this phase of your son’s life.

  9. Jean says:

    Wow, I really enjoyed this article. I enjoyed your insight as a father and I was reading something I already knew in my own heart. You see, I have raised my two sons by myself since they were 10 and 16. Sure, their dad dropped in occasionally, fun visits, maybe worked on their car from time to time, but after he remarried, WHAM. Out of the picture for the most part – during their teenage years. I continued to work full time, also part time as expenses grew, maintain a loving home, and all on my own. But hey, I’m a good “Mom,” and as they have grown older (age 28 and 22 currently), they remind me of this. Who do they spend time with on holidays? Who do they call or text when they need something or have exciting news to tell? Whose home do they return to for comfort, an overnight, or just a home cooked meal? Need I say more? Through the love, some struggling (yes), working two jobs, who has benefitted the most from these relationships? ME! I have never missed out on experiencing any of the major events, or times when they needed to talk. I have truly flourished and being a mother has and always will be the BEST part of my life! So thank you for writing this article Jason. BTW, my son just called to see what I was up to after work so we’re having dinner together. 🙂 Jean N.

    • Carol Fresco says:

      Congratulations Connor! Great job! And Jason…you are a wonderful father, man and singer! Such a class act! You should be proud of Connor but much more proud of yourself for being a wonderful person!! Congrats to you too!

  10. Eileen Pearson says:

    Congratulations Connor for being responsible and making yourself and your family proud! Jason, thanks for sharing. Good news has been hard to come by lately.

  11. Beautiful words here… Parenting (I call it coaching) is the most challenging and rewarding of all of life’s journey (as far as I am concerned!). Rock on! Enjoy this journey!

  12. Oh… and congrats to Conner! May this be the start of a successful working career!

  13. Nancy Shield says:

    Connor..you did it on your own. That says something right there. Good for you. Hope it goes well and enjoy it.
    Nancy Shield

  14. John Kurfis says:

    Congratulations Conner! What a great milestone! I still remember my first job many years ago! Jason, thank you for sharing and keeping us in touch with what is really important in life!

    John

  15. Keith Olsen says:

    Connor, Congrats— period!!!! Jason you inspire me each and every time we see each other, talk to each other, or when I just read into your heart and soul like I just did here. As parents from the day our children are born there is a series of”letting go”. From the time the nurse in the hospital takes the newborn out of our arms, to off to school day one, to getting this first job, to moving out and on with their lives. I, like you Jason, was’t there for so much of my kids growth, too much time in the studio which at the time seemed SO important. But I gotta say, you are making up for time lost in a magnificient way. This is baring your all, just like you have done for years in your songs. I am so happy to call you my friend.
    Best always,
    Keith Olsen

  16. Mark Hanger says:

    Jason, I have followed Chicago for 40 years, You were my favorite. I love this story and can see your wisdom in wanting special time with your family.I met you backstage in Roanoke Va. several years ago. I love what you are doing with the time God has given you. Nothing greater than family. God Bless you

    Mark Hanger

  17. Dear Jason – Thank you for sharing. Ah, the joys of parenthood! I must ask you, as a friend, to please take down the railroad track photo. I was employed in the RR Industry for 42 years and spent much of that time investigating and reporting pedestrian accidents, mostly fatal, along the tracks. Understanding the “vanishing point” principles in art and photography, I know how tempting and beautiful these scenes are. I also have first-hand knowledge of how deadly incidents with train are.

    Respectfully and in all sincerity,

    Rich

  18. Rosario Zarraga Licata says:

    I have children myself. All I can say, those moments are precious.

    CONGRATULATION

    Rosario

  19. Paul says:

    Awesome Jason, parenting is really something else. My kids are young adults now and have their own little ones, but I do recall being reminded by them, hey dad I’m not stupid you know. We do it out of love. Connor young man you did it and will continue to do it. Understand your dad had a lot on his plate touring with Chicago almost 3 decades, and is also realizing what he has missed out on. Wishing you guys lots of love and respect for each other like a tight family. Cheers !!!

  20. Thomas says:

    Nice write up man. I think you’ve nailed it. The most important gifts we get are in the privacy of a one on one moment with our kids. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Becky Brown says:

    Jason, reading this shows what a wonderful Dad you are. My husband was a pilot, and away all the time, so I pretty much had to raise the kids on my own. I blamed his job for his lack of connection with the kids. Reading this, I now know that not all people are destined to be a good parent. We embrace and accept who they are, all of them. You are a great parent. Congratulations both to Connor and to you!

  22. Joy Faciane says:

    What an awesome story and memory for you. So happy that you are having this time with your Family. Won’t lie I miss you not being in Chicago but so happy of your freedom now and your love for your family to be there for them and still do your own thing. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  23. Fred Foxworthy says:

    Hey Connor,
    congrats on the job…good luck and I’m sure you’ve got a great support staff at home. You’ll do well. Just remember, all work and no play makes Connor a dull boy 🙂

    To Jason,
    As long as family comes first everything God can give will come easily.

    Regards,
    Fox

  24. Steve Wiest says:

    Congratulations Connor! You obviously have it all together and are going to have a great time on your journey. I believe that family is everything, and you are blessed with a Dad who believes that as well. That will be your rock and foundation for the rest of your life. You are set!

    As one of my favorite philosophers, Theodor Seuss Geisel says: “Oh the places you will go!”

  25. Gina says:

    Congrats to Connor and to you. The story is better told than sharing his video. Keep it for him.

    Have him take a photo of his first paycheck too.

    Love your writings about life, family and your new music.

    Your best is yet to come. Hoping you have many more rewards.

  26. Rosario Di Marco says:

    That’s a nice story Jason I know where your coming from with that kind of reached that point myself love my daughter like crazy
    you know with recent changes in Chicago I thought for a moment you would be welcomed back still can happen with Danny Seraphine
    but thir are many balloons in the air leave up to faith have a good day with your family.

  27. Van says:

    Way to go Conner! Find a job/career you love and you will never work a day in your life.

  28. Randy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Our relationships with our children are priceless. I missed out on some things, myself, working and gigging took up so much of my earlier years. Now I play for churches and get home at the other 1:00. God’s blessings to you and yours. The tuner works great on my Tacoma 5. Thanks again,

    Randy in Centralia. WA

  29. Billy Pope says:

    That’s a super cool story Jason and to be honest, i too would be quite proud that all of the prep to get the job was done by Connor himself. That in itself is remarkable in this day and age!

  30. Oscar A. Roman says:

    Yes Sir,
    It is a wonderful feeling, I meet you and your son Connor, couple of years ago at Houston, and we had a wonderful talking, he offered himself for taking us some pictures, that I still enjoy a lot.
    Enjoy your kids as much as you can.
    All the best to you all, from a fan and a friend from Mexico

  31. Sheila McGrath says:

    What a beautiful story Jason. I know how proud you are of him and it’s so great you are letting him and the world know. It is a tough tightrope to walk as a parent with our kids to not become a helicopter parent. We all know it benefits our kids more when the do it themselves but it sure is hard to see them struggle. Kudos for you Jasonand I’m so glad you got to experience this and are having quality time with your family.

    Sheila McGrath

  32. Eddie Bimonte says:

    Congratulations Connor !!! You totally Rock!! The blessings and gifts of a great family are right under your feet and in heart and soul that flows between great parents and siblings.

    Jason I love you bro !!! Cheers !!

  33. John says:

    I had a similar experience dropping my oldest daughter off for the first time at college. She had done a TON of work on her own to earn enough scholarship money to completely pay for the university where she wanted to go – not without some prodding or advice for sure, but what she built for herself over 4 years of high school lead up to this result. Leaving her there was a mix of sadness for us but overwhelming joy for her, knowing she was right where she wanted to be and knowing that “she’s got it covered.” Several months later, when I was waiting in her dorm lobby for her to bring her home for a break, I saw the “grown-up” version of her, walking down the sidewalk – a beautiful, smiling lady with a back back, joking with a friend against the backdrop of a beautiful, sunny autumn day. These experiences are amazing, and certainly encouraging for us as parents as we raise them to let them go – enjoy these days.

  34. Moe Maloney says:

    So heartwarming. I don’t have kids, but I can’t stand some of these millennials. They barely know how to speak, and never look up at you. I work in an insurance office, and the parents do everything for these kids, including a new car. When they have an accident they are helpless and Daddy has to step in. And don’t even THINK about criticizing their driving. We’ve actually lost clients when we did that.
    Your Conner sounds like a true blessing. Glad you’re getting to spend more time with your family.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Your OLD friend,
    Moe

  35. Kevin Kent says:

    You are a born story-teller. Weave those into the greatest songs you’ve ever written. I know the feeling of wanting to be there for them. Same story. It’s funny what we remember versus what the kids do. They are thankful you are there for them now. But like us, they want to have those successes on their own. Tell those stories. Write that with the inspired wisdom you live and breath now and I believe, the Grammy will be on the way… Hah, “ALL” the way.

  36. Lauren Ludlam says:

    Jason that almost echoes a feeling I had just last week. My youngest, my daughter Alexa just turned 17 and also got her first job. Almost the exact same kind of story. I struggled with myself throughout the “applications” and not wanting to do it for her, but I didn’t. She did it all, found a job, and left for her first day. I didn’t get the joy of filming her walking into work, because she had also just gotten her drivers license so, as she drove away from me, standing in the driveway, I also pulled out my phone and filmed her drive away to the first day of her first job that she got all on her own. It was so bittersweet… I was sad in one way that she didn’t “need” me, but so totally proud of her and of myself that she was able. I had equipped her for life 🙂

  37. Lauren Ludlam says:

    And congratulations not only to Connor, but to you as well. You did your “job”:)

  38. Debby Morosky says:

    Congratulations Connor on a great accomplishment!!! You are such a bright young man, wishing you all the best in your new job and the future.

  39. I have found that the greatest reward for me in life has been watching my son Mike. He has been the joy of my life and nothing tops it. He picked his own graduate school major and started to work. Six months later, he was given a million dollar contract allowing him to start his own business. Today, he has people working all over the world. I keep asking him how did he learn to do that. I’m not even sure Everything that he does. But my friends all say, “he has your work ethic.” A child is like a sponge. They absorb everything they see without the grownups knowing they are even paying attention. You might not know it now; but Connor has soaked up lots of traits from you. He’s going to be quite a man! Go get ‘em Connor. Blaze your own trail. Set your goals high and find your passion. Congratulations. Everybody remembers their first job! Take photos.

  40. Randall Davidson says:

    The simple moments in life between a parent and child, are the most beautiful. As the parent of a daughter who is now 26, I cherish every memory of her childhood and adolescence. I am fortunate to have captured special times on video. Congratulations to Connor for his enthusiasm for his new responsibilities, and a new phase in his life, and to you Jason, for being such a good parent.

  41. Jackie Harrison says:

    Congrats Connor! Thanks for sharing Jason. I believe in this younger generation. I am sitting back and watching some of our future leaders in the making.

  42. Pam says:

    Congratulations to your son and to you! I have two teens with jobs and it IS a huge proud moment to watch. Happy for you and your kids and wife that you’re able to be there to witness the magic of all these little moments!

  43. Ian Anderson says:

    My first Job was a paoer route. Then McDonalds…. Nothing like it on planet earth. You begin to grow in was you may not see initially, but when you look back, you’ll smile. Good luck Connor, and congratulations!!!

  44. James Cooper says:

    Awesome job Connor!! Jason, I also went thru what you just experienced only 3 weeks ago. My son Cody, is 23 and a senior in college. Up til this point he had been really concentrating on getting good grades so I had not pushed the job thing either. Cody has Ausbergers condition which is a high functioning type of Autism. He has been on the honor roll the last 3 semesters at U.W. Oshkosh. Anyway, he started talking to some people and they helped him make some connections. Thru this, he got himself a position with a company in his field (Graphic design) worked 4 days over the winter break. Today is his last day before going back to school next Monday. There is a good chance that he may be able to again work for this company this summer after graduation. Cody did this all on his own, as you mentioned it is so awesome to see!! Sometimes you have to stand back and trust the way you lived your life and raised your children. I am seriously very proud of who my son has become and look forward to many more awesome experiences down the road!! Thank you for sharing your story, hope you also enjoyed my son’s too! Thanks again, Jim Cooper.

  45. Kristi says:

    Well said… our daughter flew on her own for the first time last weekend. She’s 11, and some of my parent friends were horrified that we did this, and didn’t think we should… I’m not sure, but she seemed a bit taller after that and her already great confidence just soared. 🙂
    Congrats to your boy!

  46. Trish Kinnee says:

    Wow! I have a bit of a year in my eye reading your excitement! It reads like a proud parent sending their child off to kindergarten, college or, well, life!
    I’m so glad you are now able to enjoy these things. Maybe the childhood years have past, but these coming years will be the big league years where you will be challenged.
    Major congrats to Connor! Getting a job in today’s job market is an accomplishment! Plus, money is nice.
    Thanks, Jason, for always being so optimistic and even inspiring!
    Rock on!
    Trish

  47. jeff schamel says:

    Family first…second…and third…but its so hard to maintain this mantra with the pressures of the stuff you want to be fourth/fifth/sixth, etc, (work/money/health, etc.) always nosing to the front of the line. But moments like this serve as reminder that no matter how much other forces intrude and impede that striking a balance is the key…putting “everything” first is impossible and implausible and you are ultimately putting everything last. And some days (hours) you have to have the foresight to make them interchangeable knowing at the end of the day you did the best you could.

  48. Trish Kinnee says:

    Umm … “tear in my eye” …not year.

  49. Lillyane says:

    Congrats! You did it Connor! Welcome to busting your butt! Thanks Jason for this!

  50. Jax Calle says:

    Jason… I love your thought process. Thanks for leading always with your wonderful example.

  51. Gloria Adams says:

    This so reminds me of a speech in front of a school parent (PTO) group by a fellow parent, a judge that I already knew and respected. He said that his 10 year old son came to him in his study and said “Dad, I kept a calendar of all the evenings that you were gone in the past year.” And he presented it to his father. It was at that instant that the judge realized that “time” spent with your kid does not have to be measured solely by “quality time”. Time in itself is important. I’m sure that he made a strong effort to be there more evenings in the years following. As I am a teacher, I have repeated his words many times in back to school night speeches to my “parents”. I’m a grandparent now, and you can bet that I try to “be there” for my grandkids too. The big challenge today is to limit our time on technology in order to be present. Coincidentally, my oldest grandson is starting his first job tomorrow night, and I hope that his parents need for me to take him and I will follow your lead and make a video as he walks toward the door! Life is great, isn’t it?

  52. Perfect! This is so true. My kids are on their own now and, having raised them with this same mentality, they are stong, independent, responsible adults. Good Job jason! And way to go Connor!

  53. Tom says:

    Congrats Jason on your greatest reward!! Isn’t it great seeing your creation grow in so many wonderful ways! Be proud of everything your family does,
    Congrats Connor for starting to go after your dreams, and may they grow as you go!

  54. Bruce Castano says:

    Great story Jason,I know just how you feel.I am in the automotive business and my son who graduated with a degree in computer engineering wanted to work in the automotive business. He insisted on doing it himself and he got a job with General Motors working at their tech center making six figures. I am so proud of him for that, What a great gift to receive. You think sometimes they do not listen but they really do. What a credit to you and your wife on his upbringing , great work enjoy the fruits of your labor, awesome for you. P.S I have a second son just graduated so I am going to experience it all over again so proud of both of my sons

  55. Carol Moore says:

    Jason, that brings back so many memories! Chicago played in Wabash, IN several years ago, and my friends were disappointed that I only took them to the concert and picked them up instead of going to the concert. See, at the time we had adopted 2 preteens who both lost their parents. One gave us a beautiful granddaughter whom I chose to rock to sleep that night instead of going to the concert. I have no regrets.

  56. Darin Scheff says:

    Uncle loves you conneau!
    Proud of you beyond Words.
    love you, darin

  57. Chris Walch says:

    What a great story Jason, and man – and not only do I totally “get it” but it is eye opening for me who only has 1 child. For me 24 years of commuting to to the city 5 days a week and having crazy hours, I would get my time with my son as he was going to bed and barely waking up. My wife had all the drop off’s, pick up’s and meetings – plus work. Then on weekends…”life” happens and that was the time for the house and rest of the needs. Suddenly it’s Sunday night bed time. Last year – I got the unexpected “permanent vacation” handed to me, and the commute stopped and suddenly I am home. Flash forward and suddenly I am on drop off’s and pick up duty…going to the school meetings and at 10 years old – watching him have the lead in his school play – which he went for an got on his own accord. We encouraged but held no expectations, and he did it…on his own. And since then, he continues to blow me away everyday, as I watch him start to become his own “being”. I have been “accused”of being a little emotional when i comes to my kid….and even the simplest thing of watching him walk with his over-stuffed, 100 lb school bag on his back as he walks from the car can have an affect on me.

    But the connection to what you wrote is simple fact that instead of being “angry” as to why I am home right now, instead of at a job in the city? Is the fact …that I am here now – during this point of his life to be able to be watching, “live time” in person. Whether I was ready or not I was given a gift…and now I am taking it in as much as possible and LOVING it! Not that I can avoid work forever 🙂 ….but for the moment, it’s all good! Congrats Connor on your first gig!!!! Looking forward to my Noah’s!

  58. Todd Mitchell says:

    Hi Jason, great story. Thanks for the note about helicopter parenting, I tended to do that with my 13 yr old son when he was younger, at the playground usually, afraid of him not playing well with others, or others not playing well with him. Gotta let go and let them have fun! My daughter is 20 days old today and I’m going to not hover so much with her so she knows she can be confident in herself.
    Tell Connor congrats and hope he enjoys it!

  59. Gloria Elbrecht says:

    I started working at age 11 — whether it was babysitting; cleaning houses, or mowing lawns. We were extremely poor and there were 6 of us. My parents never pushed us but we all could see they needed help. Every penny we earned we gave to my dad. There was always food on the table and yes, the famous hand me down clothes. Both parents worked so even in first grade we all had to get ourselves ready. We never depended on them for help. We grew up the hard way. Skipping forward my dad had a terrible accident—he fell off the top car of a railroad. I was the oldest one at home at that time and knew what I had to do. I went and took a state test in my senior year and lied on my application that I had graduated. I was called in for an interview and the lady looked at me and asked if I was a graduate. I told her I had lied and explained to her about my father. She said to me that as soon as I graduated to come back and see her. Well while all my friends went off to all night grad I stayed home. I woke the next morning, took the bus downtown and met the lady. She took me across the street and I started working immediately. Every paycheck I handed over to my parents. All I thought was that my parents raised us all the right way. To love, respect and help one another. My parents are still alive and they never have forgotten after all these years what I did to help them out.
    I know this strays from. Mr Scheffs beautiful story but even as children;, many of us just know the right things to do. And still having my parents and siblings around makes it worth it.

  60. Debbie Fillip says:

    We spend a lifetime so it seems teaching our children. Moments like these reassure you that they are worth every minute of the time you gave them. Congratulations on a job well done. And congrats to Connor too!!!!

  61. Linda says:

    Congrats Connor on ur first job, I hope it will be a positive experience for you. U have an amazing and talented Dad who is so very proud of the young man that’s u r becoming. Keep up the great work!!

  62. Wonderful to hear of your get event…Be Happy.. Carolyn

  63. Wonderful news. I’m happy for you…Carolyn Ridge

  64. Joann C Frederick says:

    That is a wonderful story Jason. I am a also a parent to a 15 year old son, and I probably going to feel the same way, when my son leaves for college or his first job. He wants to get his first job this summer. It is wonderful to feel proud of our children. I loved reading your story,because it will be me soon. Take Care.

  65. Joe says:

    Congrats Connor on your first job! It will feel great making a little nest egg for college or even the first car.

    Jason: Isn’t it great seeing how your kids are maturing into young adults. Some day (maybe even now, they will be some of your best friends and sharing stories on such a level that it will blow you mind. Until then, good on you for taking each day and having a real enjoyment for life. The road is where you became famous for your voice and musician ship- but its at home with you are the true platinum artist.

    Take Care,

    Joe

  66. judy graves says:

    You go Conner! Congrats on your first job! Never give up on your dreams! Happy for you too Daddy that you got to be there to witness that day in Conner’s life 🙂

  67. Congratulations, Connor! And thanks for sharing all your thoughts in the last while, straight for the heart, Jason. I met you a few times during your Chicago days and you were always a class act, friendly and accommodating with the fans. I see that hasn’t changed. Keep it up and God bless your new endeavours!

  68. Monica Cohrt says:

    Congratulations Conner! What a wonderful accomplishment ( the first of MANY to come, I’m sure )! Jason, I have 3 grown kids. I know and understand the importance and excitement of watching your children grow and become the mature, capable, responsible young adults you pray they’ll be. I’m so happy you could be there to witness this. God bless you and your family.
    With love and best regards,
    Monica Cohrt❤️

  69. Michael Chevillot says:

    C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! ! ! !

  70. Amy Di Novo says:

    Jason, today is my birthday and I can so relate to being aware that “life is fleeting”. Thank you for sharing this today, for all of your past blogs that put me on a revitalized life path that changed me in a million ways for the better! I may not have children but your life experiences and way with words delivers a huge impact for me. Your courage to set out on your own path continues to inspire me. I am so grateful!

    • Bruce Castano says:

      Hi Amy, This is Bruce Castano from the Chicago fan forum page. Just wanted to say hi and everything is going well with you. Take care. Bruce

  71. Lynn Newman says:

    Congratulations Conner on taking a big step into adulthood without the need (but with the love and blessings) of your parents!
    Congratulations Jason and Tracy for parenting Conner in such a positive way!
    Kudos to you all!

  72. Cathy Hawkins says:

    Getting a job was the best thing he could do. Rich or poor, every child needs to have a job in their teen years to appreciate earning a dollar or two and what the value is when buying something with their own money. I found my children appreciated it more and to this day my daughter hates to pay full retail for her clothes even though she can afford it.

  73. Jane Elloway says:

    Congratulations, well done you x

  74. Laurie Cooper says:

    Congrats, Connor on getting your first job! It is hard to watch them fall, but it is cool when they that steps without being told. We as parents are proud of our children for what they do! Both of my daughter’s had jobs at 16 and they worked at places were I could shop. I would stop and go in their lanes and tell them in front of others that I was proud of them and I love you!

  75. Francene Laubtner says:

    Congratulations Connor, wishing you all the best in your new job. So happy for you. And a big shout out to your parents for raising such fine children. Keep Shining!!

  76. Very touching story ….My best wishes to you and yours .Jason .Congrats to Connor.!! George

  77. Beth says:

    You‘ve learned that the teen years are as precious, if not more, than the tot years! Go show, Jason!

  78. Brian Cruz says:

    Congratulations to you Connor and to you Jason for wanting to be there and share in his special moments in life!! As parents, we become so involved in everything and before we know it, our kids are grown up and gone out of the house. John Lennon said it best when he wrote in a song, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” How true is that? I worked at UPS for 38 years putting in 10 to 12 hours a day, would play in a rock band, orchestra and also do sports of bowling and softball. Time was not my friend at all and when my kids started doing sports and music, I had to slow down and find the time for them. It was still hard with the hours of work, but I was able to make most events, games, concerts and such. Best decision I ever made in my life! Being a part of your child’s everyday life and future is the best gift a parent can give! I applaud your decision to want to do what you are doing Jason and I know you know you made the right choice. We all miss you being out there on the road, but you are happy in your heart and mind in being with family and sharing those special moments of everyday life!! Take them in and enjoy them all!! All my best to you and the family, Brian

  79. Simon Allen says:

    Congratulations Connor, Jason sounds like we have had mirrored lives recently. My son is 16 and has recently started his first job. Much like Connor he did by himself. As parents all we can do is offer advice and hope our children make the right decisions in life and be proud when they do. Just for clarification I am also an appointed Uber driver when he works.

    Take care Simon

  80. Karen Lerner says:

    Jason, I totally understand why you are sharing this with us. Good parenting is the gift that keeps on giving. When we do a good job as parents, whether or not we are present during their formative years as much as we would like to be, we reap the benefits for the rest of our life. There’s nothing more gratifying in life, if we were so lucky to have been blessed with children, than to see them grow up and mature into wise, independent and motivated adults. My sons (I have two, now 36 and 32) always ask me what I want or need for my birthday, Mother’s Day, etc. I tell them, “Nothing”, because watching them reach their goals and meet all of their successes along their journey,is the gift that keeps on giving.
    Enjoy your ride with Connor, JJ and your other children.

  81. Becky says:

    Humbling isn’t it? Congrats Connor! Life is amazing to participate in….hold onto…and cherish.

  82. Ellen Levy says:

    Hi Jason,
    Congratulations to Connor on his first job!
    You must be so proud of him.
    I am glad that you were around to experience it.
    When a child uses his own initiative from your guidance and love it’s the best!
    Good luck to both of you.
    It’s great hearing from you always!
    ❤️‍♀️

  83. Ron Bland says:

    Outstanding initiative Conner! Attaboy!
    But Jason, after seeing you on tour all those years
    finally we are seeing a dad mature alongside his son. Brings a mist to my eyes to remember just how many times I took both of my boys to your concerts over the years.. Now they are grown with their own children. But trouble was, after all those shows I took my boys home with me. I am so happy for you that God saw you thru it all and now IT’s YOUR TURN!

  84. Tina Eggert says:

    Way to go Connor!!! & way to go Jason….my eldest two are 20 & 18, my 20 year old decided straight out of high school that she wasn’t sure about continuing on to college ( she hated HS & just didn’t have the confidence to go onto college…) at first I was a little upset, but immediately she went out & got a job (& we didn’t even push her to do so…yet…) she felt that she didn’t want to become a burden to anyone, so decided on her own to look for work and not be so dependent on us…our 2nd daughter (18 year old) decided she wanted to earn her own money too , but still wanted to go to college as well, so she got a part time job for her last 2 years of HS & had graduated with some scholarships for college…she’s now in her freshman year of college & still working part time….YES, the feeling of trying to lead our kids in a good direction is always important but when then start moving in those directions on their own, it IS such a proud moment & truly makes us feel like we haven’t totally screwed up in this parenting thing!!! Congratulations to you & yours & many more happy accomplishments to come for your future!!!!

  85. Charles Paolino says:

    Jason, what a blessing. Your choice to put family first has awarded you the opportunity to witness … and document … your son’s milestone. Bravo Dad!

    Connor, congratulations on all the careful preparation you completed to successfully commence your first job. I will tell you from experience that you will always remember the lessons you learn from your first job. Those lessons will serve you well as you go through life.

    Best wishes,

    Charlie P

  86. Beth says:

    Congrats Connor! My daughter is 15 she got her first job this year at a place called fright kingdom it’s a haunt that’s open mainly on weekends. She loved it ang got huge reviews from her manager of how responsible she was that was my proud parent award. She got her first paycheck and bought a bunny with a cage. She was super proud and spoils that bunny rotten. It’s such a sweet age you miss the baby and toddler stages but love how they are growing up. I’m happy you get to see all those moments now

  87. Emma Rivera says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!I had the same blessing although it took my son a lot longer to reach that point which actually made it all the more sweeter! Family is everything and its good to be able be there to share every milestone! Congratulations to Conner and continued blessings for you both!

  88. David says:

    Thanks for sharing It’s hard to let them grow up sometimes. Tyler is 26 and we still try to help him too much. Hoping for some new music from you

  89. David says:

    Connor. All the best in starting the job. Be happy in what you do

  90. Eddie Estes says:

    That’s awesome. He doesn’t know me but a 16 year old kid wanting to work is a wonderful thing and he is obviously a wonderful kid.
    I remember my first job at the local A&P grocery store and how nervous I was that day.
    Good luck Connor

  91. Paul T. Whitcombe says:

    Congratulations Connor! You did it all on your own. Welcome to the beginning of adult life young man!

  92. Michael C says:

    Nice news and heartfelt stories seem to be fewer and farther between. Kids are tough, no question about it. When something happens right in front of you, so simple and profound, it stops you dead in your tracks. There are 2 thoughts I live by in trying to raise my children:
    1. If you plant potatoes, you get potatoes and 2. I’ve have learned that the years force a certain amount of maturity on us all, whether we like it or not. Patience pays off…
    Lastly, it is all about equality and inequality in the world today. The only thing I see see we all have (equal) that is the same no matter your gender, race, religion, financial status, where your from or whatever we measure and that is 24 hours in the day. It is just what we decided to do with that time that sets us apart from one another.
    Conner, you did your Dad a solid. Hopefully you’ll have a son that does you one some day and you will really understand first hand why your Dad shared your moment. Let’s not forget Mom too….

  93. Jerry Polk says:

    Great story my friend. Congratulations to Connor. It’s very cool to be a proud dad and more cool to brag about it too. ✌️

  94. Growing up with a Dad like you, Jason, will be the best for your kids.
    Unfortunately I’ve missed my Dad tremendously since I was 7 ’cause he emigrated to the USA with another woman and left us (3 kids) here in Holland (in the late 50’s). When I turned 30 I saw him again and had 2 grandkids to ‘present’ to him and thankfully, we still had some great years together. YOU sound like a great Dad. So happy for your kids.

  95. ANTHONY DALUZ says:

    Man Jason, thanks for sharing, awesome, true, and very helpful read. Rock On!

  96. Kris Hinrichs says:

    Congratulations, Jason, on this momentous occasion. You certainly have a great way with words. I love your messages about being in the moment and living in the present. I love your take on helicopter parenting (as a school teacher I see this often). Mostly, I love looking at Connor through your eyes from your heart. Thank you for sharing this little window into your world. You have brought us all JOY.
    Congratulations to Connor on this new milestone in your life.
    May 2018 be a very prosperous year for you. I wish you every success in your life and career path. #celebrateyou

  97. Tina Czarniecki says:

    Hey Connor,

    More congrats on your new job! You sound like an AWESOME young man!! I know its a lot of hard work but it is so worth it. Your future is looking bright! You made your parents very proud. Be proud too. Your parents raised a wonderful son! Let your dad enjoy this time in your lives. There will be many more accomplishments to share as a family.

    This story brought a tear to my eye. What a beautiful picture.
    Great memories!

  98. Congrats to Connor for getting his first job and not only that, taking the imitative to finish the online course, getting work shoes, being ready to go into work…ALL WITHOUT ANY PROMPTS!! You crushed it Connor! Keep on with it and you’ll go far! Thanks for sharing this timeless memory, Jason!

  99. Carolyn says:

    Congratulations to all of you. Its hard being a parent, figuring out when to help and when to help after they fall. Jason, I do believe a beautiful song could come out of this!

  100. Vicki Cahill says:

    I’m so happy you get this much needed time with your family Jason. You and Tracy are amazing parents. Congratulations Connor, on getting your start to success. I’m sure you will excel in life, learning as you go.
    I had my son later in life and I struggle everyday NOT to be a helicopter parent to this amazing eight year old. It is so very hard sometimes, but I know if I keep letting him figure out a bit of life himself he will have a successful life ahead.
    Congratulations and keep enjoying your times together. Life is short and we all need to treasure every moment with our loved ones.

  101. Jim Solem says:

    Thanks for sharing Jason….always good to hear from you. While I still know even two years out, I still miss you being a part of Chicago, I understand your reasons…and applaud you for them.

  102. Lin says:

    Congrats Connor! Jason, what a blessing for you to be home to share these moments with your family!

  103. Rick Soto says:

    Congrats Conner!!!

  104. Kathy Havlicek says:

    Wow, what a fun and uplifting story! Good job, Jason (terrific writing to capture the event–written in an engaging, interesting way!). Connor, hearing stories like this gives me confidence in our future. Too many times we only hear the negative stuff. This heartwarming story reminds me that we’ve got some really awesome youth out there! I still remember my 1st job (age 15)–it still is one of my favorites because I learned so much and it was a great way to launch into the medical field. Work hard and many doors will open for you, Connor! Congrats to both of you!

  105. Samantha Elsebusch says:

    Beautifully said, Jason. Those moments are the greatest gifts. Congratulations, Connor! You will do great in your new job!

  106. Glenn Cotler says:

    Congrats Connor and good luck! Great story Jason, enjoy this time! You deserve it! My wife and I adopted a baby 3 years ago and I enjoy every minute of it. I have to adult children I don’t get to see much, so its fun the second time around to take it all in.

  107. Dave Yancey says:

    Thanks Jason, Thats how you be a human being on the planet. Inspiring me to have kids if I wasnt too old! The Grammys are not important at all anymore. They look good on a shelf in a studio but its not like the old days when DF and BC won. Your new song makes me cry and Im thinking about my cat! Thats powerful stuff, man!

  108. Craig Hughes says:

    So true, Jason. We miss so much, even working an 8:00 – 5:00 job, let alone being on tour for weeks. I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of things in my son’s life, and now, at 32, he’s still my pride and joy. Please let Connor know just how rare it is for parents to get out of the way and just help when needed. I applaud Connor’s initiative and willingness to get it accomplished and your hands-off approach. Well done, both of you!!!

  109. Mark R. says:

    Randomly, I was thinking of you this evening, Jason, wondering if you are happy. And now I have the answer and I’m happy for you! I have no children of my own, but as an uncle, I want to be one who plays a positive role in my nephew’s life. But without being a parent, at times I feel I’m ill-equipped because I’m not aware of the modern parenting techniques you mention. Can I be the cool uncle and still impart wisdom? What actions or words will he pick up on that will shape his thoughts? My sister tells me all the time how I’m a bit of an idol to my nephew. If I like a certain something, he gets into it as well. He’s a quick study, too. But just when I think he’s becoming a mini-me, he surprises me with his own personality and thought process and reactions that are his own. So in a way, I connected with your words. Anyway, good for Connor for being a go-getter. And good on you for being an involved parent and being in the present to appreciate life’s fleeting moments and having the right perspective on it. After all, the best rewards in life aren’t displayed in a frame on a wall or rest on a shelf for others to see. Thanks for sharing.

    • Victoria Fisher says:

      First of all, congratulations Connor. Your family is so proud. Sounds like you’ve done amazing job, Jason. What a great story. Thanks for sharing!

  110. Annette Heinzenberg says:

    Dear Jason, I am so happy for you. Yesterday I have discussed with my friend about what it means to stay away from your family for such a long time because of your work/job. It is sooo hard( if you love them, and you really do !!).
    I am also happy for your family. Enjoy it!

    Liebe Grüße (best regards) from Annette, Germany

  111. Ron Cohen says:

    First off, congratulations Conner. Jason, I truly appreciate and completely agree with you. I have two daughters in college and working. I myself have never been so proud. Glory in the moment! Well deserved!!! God bless!
    Ron Cohen

  112. Rob says:

    Congratulations to Connor! I have two sons, Connor (23) and Saumuel (16), And it’s been such a blessing watching them grow into the individuals they are. Jason, you’re a very great bassist and a very gifted singer, but I like your focus here! Being a dad is sometimes more rewarding than anything else!

  113. ” Your The Inspiration….” Such a beautiful share Jason, Thank you. You are such a genuine soul

  114. Kathy says:

    Congratulations Conner & congratulations Jason! Being a parent & grandparent is the biggest reward, & I’m very blessed with memories of raising my 2 children & now 6 grandchildren! I’m so happy for you that you are now able to enjoy & participate in those lifelong memories. Create a memory at every opportunity.

  115. Brent deRevere says:

    “Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.”
    Kudos Jason! My kids are 11 and I am looking forward to this and all the great things ahead. keep up the good work.

  116. Stefan Nilsson says:

    So true! Beautiful to read this. Thank’s for sharing.

    Good Luck with your artistry! It would be great to see you perform in Stockholm.

    Greetings
    Stefan in Stockholm, Sweden

  117. Jamie Yarbrough says:

    Thankfully, most of our children know that we love them. We tell them when we drop them off or saying goodnight, etc. That carries a lot of weight and feeling loved is essential. During these formative years, this brief period, it’s equally essential to say “I’m proud of you”. Watch your child’s eyes light up when you say those words. He should be proud of this great accomplishment. I’m proud of you, too, J. Keep up the great work. All My Best- ~JY~

  118. John Morgan says:

    Congratulations Conner! You obviously are making your dad proud and that’s something you should take some pride in. Jason, this truly warmed my heart. After watching you on stage for so many years and listening to you sing on recordings, it’s very exciting to see the “other side” of you. Hearing your stories of living the “normal” family life and reading your experiences is wonderful for me because you have taken my vocal hero of so many years and showed me just how awesome he really is as a human being. I never knew much about you until I began reading these blog entries, but let me tell you something buddy. I like you. You’re emotional, thoughtful and clearly a very loving dad and I think the way you handled this moment with Conner is fabulous. I see myself as sort of the kiddie bumpers in the gutter of a bowling alley. I let my kids grow and choose their own path and if they get to far off track, I’m the bumper that gently pushes them back in line. I think you see yourself the same way. It works! 🙂 Keep it up, brother.

  119. Marienne Reese says:

    Jason! This is fantastic to read! Many of my student’s parents need to read this and wake up! THIS is what I try to help my students accomplish. Congratulations to YOU Jason! I’m so happy you were able to experience this. I had the privilege with Rachel. There is so much more ahead! Our job as parents is to raise an adult who is confident, capable, independent ,self-sufficient and happy, etc. I have now been blessed to see Rachel marry a man who is good to, and with, her. I am at peace knowing she will be ok when I’m gone. A great feeling. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve missed your posts.
    Btw, have you been reading “Parenting with Love and Logic”?.

    Congrats to Connor! Way to go! Great things are ahead!

    Marienne Reese

  120. Didier Derouet says:

    So happy for you that you were there to witness this moment. All the years you spent on the road, I know came at the expense of missing out on moments like this.
    All I can do is to wish you more and more of these special memories, they are far more important than awards, they can never happen again.
    To Connor, congratulations! I wish you much success on your journey. Whatever you do in life, always do it with passion and dedication, there is nothing worse than “having to go to work”. I myself have loved what I do and still do after 41 years.
    Jason, you are a great man, proud of you, so happy to have had the chance to see you again after so long.
    God bless you, and your family
    Your old friend
    Didier

  121. Donna Bolduc says:

    Wow!! Thank you for that story. I think it helped me feel better about me and my son. He’s my youngest and also 16. His older brothers always tell me I do too much for him. Maybe I do because he’s the last one to go through all these things with. Now I realize that by doing too much I’m in a sense telling him he isn’t capable enough. As parents we only want them to be happy and succeed.
    Congratulations to Connor on this huge milestone in your life. You are well on your way to good things.

  122. Scott Morgan says:

    What a great post my friend! Congrats Connor!

  123. Love this Jason.It is tough to wait and let them launch, but that’s our job. Both of my girl’s wanted to go away to school. Because I love them, I helped Abby move to Dallas and Bella move to LA, from CT. It’s been so hard for me but I knew they could do it…they are thriving. And I’ve been asked to help, and I do, but I TRY to keep from meddling or judging. I try to be supportive and encouraging. I. let them know I love them and believe in them.
    And now I have to find my own way again… That’s the job of parents… The hardest yet most rewarding job in the world.

  124. Linda Beck says:

    Great story, Jason! My youngest son just turned 16 in December. I am always amazed by the things he does without asking for help from anyone. There have been times that I fight the urge to be over involved in his life—especially when it comes to schoolwork—but he’s a good student and doing well without my interference. Over a year ago, he made up and distributed a flyer promoting himself to mow lawns, and as a result, has had a nice little job for himself. I was SO proud of that, so I can totally relate to your son’s accomplishment. Congratulations and good luck to Connor! Thanks for sharing!

  125. Cindy says:

    Bravo Jason! So dead on accurate. I love you , and all of the songs you’ve written yourself , and with other great artists.
    it should naturally follow that you would delivery such a
    touching story about your experience with your son.

    I too have an almost 16 yr old boy. At 7 years of age, he was diagnosed as being “ on the spectrum.” I had no idea what that meant , but came to realize it wasn’t good.

    Fast forward 9 years later and my son is ready to figuratively take the wheel. With God’s love, he has gotten through so much and has come so far.

    Now I, a mom use to being involved with almost everything in his life, must step aside.
    He is kindhearted , smart , headstrong boy. ( and plays keyboards)

    It is time for me to step aside , and let his bright feathers
    spread and share his gifts to the world.

    Thank you Jason so much for sharing your story.

    Cindy

    • Matt Hopkins says:

      Very cool perspective and valuable story. I can relate as a parent of teenagers now. Thanks for aharing your heart and gratitude. Congratulations Connor!

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