I wrote an article for Father’s Day that is really appropriate for any occasion. You don’t have to be a father to get some value from the article, so I wanted to share it with everyone. Here is what I wrote:
Since this is Father’s Day, and I happen to be one, I thought it appropriate for me to throw in my two-cents on the subject. After 23 years of parenting I can say with confidence, that I am “NOT” an authority on the subject. As a father, I learned firsthand that children aren’t born with an instruction manual, so this is a, learn as you “screw-up”, job.
I remember visiting my wife’s parents after our son Tyler was born, and her Dad made a very calm, off-the-cuff statement about parenting, which I will never forget. He said: “Our job as parents is to get our children over Fool’s Hill, alive.” Boy was he right. I also didn’t know that everything I was doing was going to be copied. I didn’t know that a 3-year-old could repeat exactly what you said, word for word … with the proper inflection, when you think no one is listening. But, I soon realized that our son was going to be a direct reflection of our effort and love. I never doubted my wife, she was the rock; I doubted me.
To me, D.A.D. is an earned title, a badge of honor, which comes with enormous responsibilities. In my mind, the D’s in DAD stand for so many things.
It was now my Duty to take care of him. I needed to instill in him Determination so he could Distinguish himself in whatever he did. I needed to teach him he didn’t Deserve success, he had to Deliver. I needed him to understand he would encounter Difficulties, Dishonesty, Disappointment, Disrespect, Defeat, Disagreement, Disobedience, and Doubt on his journey to being successful. I wanted him to know there is never a reason to stay Depressed or Dwell on mistakes, because tomorrow is always another day. I wanted him to be able to face Danger head on, Dare to be great, be Defiant to the naysayers, Demand the best of himself and live with Dignity. I needed him to recognize the importance of Dreaming but that we are all graded on what we Do, not what we Desire. I had to get him to understand greatness is achieved by those who are Dauntless, Durable and Devoted to their goals and sometimes he would just have to roll-up his sleeves and get Dirty, Demonstrating to all, he was willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
The “A” in D.A.D. was going to be simple for him to remember, but the core to everything when it comes to success and failure. Everyone is graded by their ACTIONS. His success in life would be Determined by what he Decides to Do and then Does. There are no trophies given for Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda … and you can’t take back what you did … so, act as if everyone in the whole world is watching, because they could be.
Then a chill came over me because I knew one of the best ways to teach was by example. Why should I expect more from him than I would from myself? As his DAD, I wanted more for him than myself, but it is not fair to demand more than I am willing to strive for. Do as I say, not as I do … is a lousy way to teach. Yeah, I got real scared. Would my son be proud of me; would I be deserving of the title D.A.D.?
Then I learned one more thing on my DAD journey; when they know you LOVE them, they become a lot more forgiving of your faults. Was I there all the time when he needed me? No. (his Mom was) But, he knew I wanted to be. At times, was I too tough on him , not fair, a poor listener, too strict, too stubborn in my ways … Guilty as Charged. But, if he says just four simple words, “I love you DAD,” I will know I succeeded at what mattered most; he knows I love him and always will. All DADs deserve the title of D.A.D., if their children LOVE them. AND … I’ll keep working on making him as proud of me as I am of him.