Monday, November 23, 2009

You were right.

Think back to your childhood. When you were a boy, what did you think it meant to be a dad?

First of all, you probably thought dads were supposed to go to work; dads were providers. Dad set the rules and meted out the punishment if you broke them. It was dad’s job to make things and fix things. Dads were tough and strong and never cried. As you hit your late teens you probably became convinced it was also your dad’s job to be a clueless asshole who made your life miserable (that’s a knock on you, not your dad, by the way…hard to be facetious when you’re blogging sometimes.)

Now think back to your boyhood and ask yourself what you wanted from your dad. You wanted him to play catch, go fishing, build soap box derby cars and come to your little league games. You wanted him to hug you, tell you how special you were and maybe if you weren’t already made to feel embarrassed by such things, you wanted him to tell you he loved you.

The point here isn’t to knock your father at all. Dads who worked, fixed things, maintained discipline, provided for their families and tormented teen agers were doing essential and laudable duties. This is what society expected of a dad forty, thirty, even twenty years ago. By society’s definition, men who did the aforementioned were candidates for "Dad of the Year."

However, you probably noticed something. There is huge discrepancy between what you saw as your father’s duties, and what you wanted from your father. All you wanted from your father was time. Society expected something else. It only goes to show that society isn’t always right—sometimes, six year old boys are.

Being a great dad is about balance. Try to keep this in mind the next time you feel like you have to put your “dad” hat on. All you child really ever wants from you is time and unconditional love. Make sure, no matter how much or how little that time is--that it is undivided and open hearted.

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