Yesterday was Father’s Day. It was a time in which many of you may have picked up the phone and said “Happy Father’s Day”, or even gave a present to the man that fits this role in your life. For others, this can be a difficult time due to a father’s passing or a difficult upbringing. For me, it was my first Father’s as an “empty nester”. It was my first time in which I saw none of my kids, yet got the phone call or text message wishing me well.
I have to admit that it was a lonely time. However, dads can feel this loneliness when they are surrounded by people and very busy. As the world flooded social media and tv commercials full of dad ads, I was reminded of times that it felt as if I was in opposition to the world. This included my kids and my wife. There were times in which I had to make difficult and unpopular decisions for the benefit of my kids.
On several occasions, I can recall telling my wife that I would not do the wrong thing to be popular with my children. This sucks. Every dad wants his kids to be happy with him. He is supposed to invoke a smile and be a conquering hero. However, some of the worst dads I ever met gave their kids anything they wanted. They would not say no. The ironic thing was that the kids were very insecure and depressed. How could this be if someone always says yes?
Well, we don’t always know or choose what is best for us. Instant gratification can bring about regretful feelings in hindsight. Have you ever eaten too much? Have you ever drank too much? Have you ever stopped an exercise routine? These are basic ideas. However, I’m sure that if we allowed people to peek in our closet, they would find several decisions that have not served us well.
As a dad, it is your job to put good and healthy opportunities in front of your kids. You must think about their future when they don’t. I promised my children that I would never say no for the sake of saying no. If I needed to, there was a reason, and I may not be able to explain it at the moment. However, if they wished to discuss my decision at the proper time, I would be glad to do so. I found this to be successful in dealing with my children. However, there are a few rules that I needed to implement for myself in order for this to work:
- Be consistent. Say and do what you say you are going to do.
- Don’t make your decisions in the midst of emotion. You may need to take a moment or request time to think about your decision.
- If your children wish to discuss your decision at and in an appropriate time/setting, listen to them. Don’t interrupt, but be an active listener.
- Stand by your commitment to do and provide the best for your kids despite the popularity of your decision.
- Apologize if/when you get it wrong.
Surprisingly enough, my kids rarely brought my decisions to the discussion table for a challenge. There were a handful of times. However, having time to get over emotions and ponder a ruling usually lets them see your point of view more clearly. When they learned that I would not back down in order to be popular, this saved me so many arguments. Again, consistency is the key.
It is not the job of your kids, especially little kids to know what is best for them. It is your job and that of their mother. Keep in mind that parents don’t always agree. This is another topic for another post. However, I wanted to recognize the importance of good communication and the efforts of both parents to work towards putting their children’s needs above their egos.
Doing what is right can be a very lonely feeling. You may feel that everyone is against you. Trust me when I say that it is not the whole world, but it can be “your world”. You may feel like some creature that no one understands. Anyone that says that parenting is easy is an idiot. Let me hear the amens. It is hard! It is a fight, and sometimes a fight with those you are fighting for.
I want to encourage you NOT to avoid tough decisions. So many times we just don’t want to “deal with it”. Yes, it is a pain. It’s difficult. However, they are worth it. Your kids are worth whatever you need to go through and endure for their benefit. That is what makes you the hero. Keep moving forward. Never quit.
What if you screwed up? What if you blew it? Acknowledge your mistake and find that starting point. You can always start from where you are. We can’t undo mistakes, but we can learn what NOT to do in the future. Whether it is investing in your kids future or healing a relationship, you are going to take some hits. You are going to feel alone at times. However, we must remember that our kids are worth it.