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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What it means to be a Dad.

I'm not going to claim that I've been a model for what I'm about to opine, but that's not the point.  As in most things in life, the real point isn't in the achievement but rather in the effort.

This past Sunday was Father's Day, and while it was a busy day for me, I did want to take a few minutes to openly think about what it means to be a Dad.  

Being a Dad isn't about being a perfect person, perfect parent, perfect anything.  We are all equally flawed.  What it is about is the act of trying.  

Being a Dad means that you love your children.  Simple, huh?  Deceptively simple actually.  When you love your children it means that you make them a central part of your life.  "Central part of you life" is different than "obsessing" though.

Being a Dad means that you invest the one thing we all have, time, in your children. Sometimes your children need your time when it's convenient for you, sometimes when it's inconvenient.  In the grand scheme of things there is no inconvenient time, that is if you view your role as a Dad in the proper perspective.

Being a Dad means that you teach you children about how to make good choices in life.  There are always choices, and sometimes it's not as simple as choosing between "good" and "bad".  Sometimes the choice is between the lesser of two evils.  Sometimes the choice is between two seemingly equal good things.  The trick isn't in guessing right, but rather in having a reasoned ability to make choices and to live your life with your eyes wide open.

Being a Dad means that you share your perspectives with your children.  You talk to them like they are fellow human beings, not nodules of flesh that you can control...because in reality you can't control them anyway.

Being a Dad means that you set a good example.  Not a perfect example, but a good example.  You constantly strive to do the simple things in life, like being respectful, in the very best ways you can.

Being a Dad means that you model respect for others.  It's easy to be respectful to those with whom you agree, but you take it one step further:  you teach your children to be respectful even in disagreement.

Being a Dad means that you teach the value sacrifice, but not to sacrifice blindly and stupidly.  For example, sacrificing in order to get your child a pony is stupid.  

Being a Dad means that you teach your children the difference between a "want" and a "need".  Giving your children everything they want teaches them that they are entitled to everything they want...which runs counter to how the actual world works.  One day you will be dead and then no one will be there to entertain the every want of your children...and you will have failed.

Being a Dad means that you teach your children the value of hard work.  Any hard work.  You teach them the that there is nobility in effort.  You teach them that there is a reason why sloth is considered a sin.

Being a Dad means that you teach your children the value of learning.  Mental sloth is just as bad as physical sloth.

Being a Dad means that you demonstrate a desire to live your life...not just talk about living your life, but actually living your life.  Giving up everything for your children and failing to have a life of your own teaches them that they too must give up everything for their children.  Where does it end?  By that logic no one ever gets to life a fulfilling life!  The better option is to have a well lived life that your children participate that they can learn by example how to live well themselves.

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