Kelly: Fatherhood is learn-as-you-goWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
I had just returned from dropping off my daughter at her last day of kindergarten when my wife said, “Don’t you have a column to write?” Oh, yeah, that. Hang on.
I pull out my laptop, sit down and take inventory … my 10-month-old son is crawling around my floor yelling out words I’ve never heard before while my 3-year-old is running around her room as she pretends her dolls are her babies and they all must be naked. (Can someone tell me why girls take clothes off their dolls?) The noise is too much, so I have to move to my office, something I should have done anyway.
This is a great example of what I, as a father, have to endure on a constant basis.
To be honest, I love it.
This month, we’re going to celebrate Father’s Day! With the celebration of yet another holiday, let’s peel back a layer and ask: What does it take to be a good father?
Based on the definition of “father,” my dad provided everything I needed so he should have been a candidate for father of the year. However, I look back on my childhood and that’s the last thing I think he should have won.
Being a father starts with being there whenever you’re needed for whatever you’re needed for. It sounds so simple, but we (guys) screw it up so often.
I have a very good friend that is a great man. He provides everything his family could ever want. He provides his wife with the type of lifestyle others would be jealous of, yet he has no idea how to relate to his young children. He loves them as much as you can love someone, but when it comes to spending time with them he falls short.
I also know of (but am not a friend of) a man who is a very shady person. This is a guy you wouldn’t trust to have your kids around, but you put him around his kids and you would think he’s the best father you’ll ever see.
Who’s the better dad?
What I’ve learned is that being a good father is more than just providing for your children or spending good quality time with them. It’s both of those, and much, much more.
I think most men reflect back on their own father for guidance. They may look back and see their childhood as being too controlling so the first thing they do is loosen the reins a little. The problem with that theory is that their kid may need more guidance than usual, so loosening the rules only adds problems. The end result? A failed relationship.
Being a good father is a custom, kid-by-kid job. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean different rules for each kid. I mean a different set of guidelines on how to treat each child.
My oldest brother is the kind of kid that will do things the first time you tell him. Me, I need a little push. If you were to approach both of us with the same attitude, you’d have no way of avoiding failing one of us.
Does this sound confusing? It should. This is why being a parent is, without a doubt, the hardest job you’ll ever take on in your life. There will never be something as important or with such high stakes as your role as a father.
Men need to look into how this is really done before jumping into having kids, too. Sure, it’s a learn-as-you-go environment, but you better put some serious thinking into who you are as a person before accepting that type of commitment. This thought process needs to include more than the “I’m going to be (nothing like) or (just like) my dad.” That doesn’t work. You need to be there for each of your kids.
So, for all you dads out there reading this, happy Father’s Day. We are a very interesting breed, we fathers. We spend all that time trying to ensure they’re OK, only to have them look into the camera and thank their mom when the news interviews them. Perfect! Happy Father’s Day!