I have heard the statement that there are no bad kids, just bad parents. While I agree that yes, there are some crappy parents out there, how long do we give kids a pardon for poor behavior? The, no bad kids statement has troubled me for a long time. Whenever your kid makes a mistake or royally screws the pooch, are we supposed to blame ourselves? When are they responsible? I mean if there are only bad parents, should mom and dad be punished when junior burns the living room rug because he was playing some matches?
I have and do doubt myself as a dad. I believe that most of us do. Is there anything that I could have done differently to prevent this? Did I do enough? When my kids failed at anything, was that because of me? If my kid gets in trouble at school, is it my fault? There is no doubt that a child’s behavior, success, and failures reflect on us as dads. If they misbehave we are embarrassed. If they lose, we feel like we lost. When they win we feel like winners. Is that just an association?
I want to let you know that I know some wonderful kids/teens that have morons for parents. I also no amazing parents that have “Damien” for a kid. When does free will come into the picture. When can a child decide for themselves? Can a child choose to not obey? I know that I sure did as a kid. I was awful at times. My sister and I were talking about it the other night. She is the oldest. I am the youngest of the siblings. We both were rebels. Our other siblings were more like Little House on the Prairie kids. The point is that our parents loved and supported us. We still wanted to be bad at times.
The idea that if you are a good dad that your kids will be angels is just not right. The idea that if you are a bad dad that your kids will be losers does not completely wash as well. I do support the idea that there are contributing factors. When I say factors, I also mean facts. There are facts and statistics about the “likelihood” or “odds” that children face that relate to fathers. Where we draw the line between what we assume to be typical and atypical is probably a matter of interpretation. For me, all the reports that I have read show that children with loving and supportive fathers have the odds in their favor when it comes to a healthy and successful life. With that in mind, I’m so glad that these statistics were about perfect fathers/dads. If it were, I think we would all be in trouble.
Being concerned about your status and/or performance as a dad is healthy. If you think you are always right or the perfect dad, I would say that there are some other things that you should be worried about. The first would be that you are delusional or just full of crap. The second would be that you don’t know how to read the faces or responses of your children at all. Being concerned means that you want to do better. It means that you want to grow and improve. This is an attitude that can only benefit our kids.
I don’t want to ever be complacent about my parenting, and I am now an empty nester. I still want to grow even though my kids are not “under my roof”. I still have a responsibility to love and be there for them. I want to be a resource of encouragement and Lord help me, wisdom. My role has changed throughout the years. Your role will as well. As they grow, you must grow. Search out ways to learn. Read, discuss, debate, and pray. Take time to evaluate yourself. Are you a fresh spring of resources for them or a stagnant pond? Listen. Really listen to them. Take time to respond instead of reacting.
I have never been a big reader growing up. Now it is definitely one of the things that I would do over if given the chance. Right now I am reading Just Listen by Mark Goulston. I will put a link to the book below. It is not just an amazing how-to, but an in-depth study about how people process information. I highly recommend it to dads out there.
Doubting yourself means that you care. You want to do better. You want more for your kids. If we don’t question and challenge ourselves, growth will not be possible. We can doubt, but we can’t stay there. We have to DO something about it. We must take action, or else it is just feeling sorry for yourself, which never helps your kids. As I always say, start from where you are. Rise to the challenge. Set small goals for growth as a Dad. Be the best dad possible.