Sunday, June 21, 2015
FATHERS DAY 2015
I've written about fatherhood a few times, which is funny since I am NOT one....
I have reflected on my own experiences as a child to a Father in [MEMORIES OF SONHOOD], exposed my dream job of being a stay-at-home Dad in [MY DREAM JOB], dissected the reasons for creating these wondrous lil human we call kids in [HAPPY FATHERS DAY!], admitted the crushing disappointment of being childless on a day it mattered in [INSPIRATION], and about my own biological “father” in [FUNERAL]. This time, I will take this occasion to paint a picture of what being a Dad would be like to ME.
We all have a vision of who we would be in any given situation. Most of the time, we are right (I hope!), but in many cases, we are FAR from correct in guessing our reaction to a challenge. I KNOW being a great parent is one of the biggest challenges we face as a human being in today's world. There are countless distractions for kids to be influenced by and far too much focus on eliminating fear and disappointment in childhood.
I couldn't disagree more.
Kids have always been stronger and smarter than we give them credit for. Yes, we all make mistakes. Yes sometimes they were serious errors in judgment, but life as an adult is ALWAYS about making choices. We SHOULD be letting kids make some mistakes on the minor issues so that on the major ones, they have an idea what they SHOULD do. A Father has a large part in this, or SHOULD have.
Many families are either single-parents or blended. That makes it more difficult to have a proper influence but certainly not impossible. I'm sure you know a LOT of good father figures that touch the lives of children in a positive way. I sometimes wonder how I would be in that environment.
I've had the good fortune of spending time with more than a few kids that were without their Dad full-time. I think my compassion comes from the recognition of what I was needing but not getting. I always wanted to be a certain way with the little ones, in spite of not having any mini-me's of my own.
If I was their Father, I would -
….be supportive and positive when it is warranted. I think one of the mistakes we are making in preparing the next generation is the acceptance of mediocrity. We CAN applaud the effort but if the result is crap, then you are doing the young adult no good in thinking they did well when the reality is they didn't. That doesn't mean always expecting the best, as we are not all talented or gifted in life. It DOES mean, encouraging our lil one to always strive for better. We can enjoy the result but admit also we can improve.
…. teach my kids how to make a good decision. It isn't always “right” or “wrong” that gets us in trouble. It's usually not preparing for the worst. If we speed on the highway, we should realize that we could get a ticket and pay a fine or worse. Is getting there a few minutes earlier worth the risk? Looking at the situation from many angles helps us make the right choice most times. Unless we don't think we will get caught! Sometimes, this will mean punishment for my child and I will love them enough to follow through with it. Kids NEED limits and authority. I will provide BOTH so that they know what is and isn't worth the risk.
…. show my kids love and affection. Most of life's tragedies are based on what we DIDN'T do. How many criminals incarcerated right now would be leading a much different life if only they were given the attention of a LOVED one. Knowing you have a hug waiting, no matter what, goes a long way towards having a happy childhood. A happy childhood has a better chance of producing a happy adulthood and neighborhood.
…. show my kids the joy of compassion. Of course, the hardest part would be showing that compassion on the road while driving, but..... Taking a moment and looking through the eyes of another changes perspective so many times. If we truly want to change a life, selflessness MUST be a part of the solution. Greed and self-absorption certainly hasn't worked thus far.
…. be interested in what my kids are thinking and doing. I know life today has a lot going on. Just earning enough money to exist is a challenge for a large part of the world. We may have to work extra or at odd hours, so being a part of the family can seem like a dream. The times we kids felt most special though, is when Mom or Dad took the time to be in the moment with us. Only us and them. The world was just the two of us and those memories are forever burned into our minds.
…. be a great role model. In spite of popular opinion, it's what we SAW as a kid that mattered more than what was SAID. You can TELL a teenager that they shouldn't smoke, but if you are smoking yourself, the words are empty. You have to WALK the walk as well as talk the talk. If I want my child to be better than me, I MUST show them BETTER is BETTER. If they see ME improving, they will themselves improve too.
…. show my kids what a great relationship looks like. Hopefully this is with THEIR MOTHER, but you know some times we mess up. They should still be able to witness mutual respect, love, and affection so they know it's possible. I'm afraid too many souls out there wouldn't know what a great partner looks like or how to find one. That is truly tragic.
…. be financially responsible so my family doesn't struggle just getting by. This goes to making good choices. Money can be spent any number of ways, a LOT of them would go under the “foolish” tab. Having dependents means you make sacrifices, you learn to say “no” when it should be said, and you don't depend on “things” to make a child happy. I grew up thinking that and luckily realized much later in life that THINGS are really NOT important. Spending a half-hour playing catch is much more memorable than playing a new video game that will soon be replaced with the newest new game. This also means I might not have the newest car for myself or the the latest fashions, but it will all seem so insignificant years later when I am proud of my child still being proud of ME.
…. share my dreams with my kids. I want them to never give up on hoping for something or reaching farther than they did before. I would want them to see failure so they too could deal with the realities of losing. It isn't the actual fail, it's the reaction that's important. I would love to show how to rebound from a defeat and overcome it later... or not. Whatever the situation, most times it's better to not give up.
…. care about living a longer life. I have to admit, I don't have a concern for tomorrow for myself. I have lived a great life, learned a lot of things, experienced many many successes, and generally improved myself as time went by. Without children or a significant other to keep me going though, the desire to go on is not nearly so strong. Maybe this will change, but....
I think my list above is the same as any new Dad. We want to do it all but life and our own shortcomings get in the way. We fail at some of the important issues in our children's lives. We don't PLAN on it, but it happens. But that doesn't mean we fail forever. We can improve. We can strive for more. We can be better.
Maybe someday I will find out how great of a DAD I REALLY can be.... or not.