So often we moms get all the credit for kids who grow up to become wonderful people. Today, I would like to consider the dad part of the parenting formula, in particular, the father of my children.
My first thoughts are memories of how nervous he was throughout my first pregnancy. He would channel all of his nervous energy to setting up the nursery. He would paint walls and painstakingly paint and detail the trim. He would immerse himself in his music and assemble cribs, bassinets and all sorts of baby gadgets.
Sometimes, we would lie in bed, his hand on my tummy, and he would express his worry at raising a child in a world that seemed so hostile, filled with media images that seemed purposely set on destroying our best efforts as parents. He would wonder how such a world would affect his soon to be born child and how those effects may differ between a boy and girl. Despite his concerns, though, he felt confident and excited about becoming a parent and I knew he would do just fine.
He knew that no matter how confusing society became, if we stuck to the basic fundamentals of good parenting, were steady rocks that did not send our children mixed messages, eventually our clarity would hold true to the end of their lives. In his very wise mind, these were his “fundamental” parenting guidelines:
- Respect your mother: He wanted our children to always keep in mind the depth of love I had for them. He wanted our children to understand that he considered me the most incredible person on earth. His desired that our children not just see me as their “mother” but also as his wife and speak to me with respect no matter how frustrated they may be feeling at the moment.
- Do not be judgmental: To learn how to get along with billions of other humans that our children will share the planet with, they first need to learn how to get along with the people of their own little world. To live peacefully with one another, he wants to be a dad who leads by example and accepts that it is perfectly fine to love someone who believes something differently than how he believes it. He wants our children to appreciate different cultures, traditions and faiths as well as individual differences such as hair style and personal choices of fashion and body decoration like tattoos and piercings. He wants our children to learn how to form their opinions of other people based on a personal relationship of mutual respect.
- Love yourself warts and all: The father of my children believes very strongly in raising our children to be champions and not victims. He feels that means not training them up to be challenge hungry perfectionists, but, rather, to understand that all humans have flaws, including themselves. He wants our children to strive to be the best that they can be, change what is possible about themselves to become better people, but at the same time accept their own limitations and flaws. He wants them to focus on their goodness rather than on their image. He wants them to concentrate on contributing to making the world a better place rather than accumulating gain only for themselves. He wants them to understand that by doing these things, it helps them to have a clear conscience. He believes a clear conscience is critical to having peace of mind which is necessary to experience true happiness.
- Life quality is wealth: The father of our children wants our children to grow up to pursue a lifestyle not so much “career” focused, but, instead, focused on simply “living”. If their dream is to be immersed in a career, he will fully support it. However, he does not want them to fall into the trap of believing life is simply about striving to become wealthy. He wants them to understand that is a frustrating pursuit because it leads to a lifestyle of never actually feeling fulfilled because you can never buy enough or have enough to “have it all”. He wants our children to learn to be satisfied and happy by pursuing a career path that enables them to live the life they dream of rather than have the things they want.
- Have independent minds: In order to achieve the life they dream of, my husband wants to teach our children that this can only be gained by thinking for themselves. He wants our children to have strong principles that will help them make sound decisions even if the opinions of those around them are telling them to do differently. He prefers that they be like the lone tiger rather than “sheeple” because, despite the fact that he loves democratic principles, he also understands that often the majority can simply be wrong. He knows that for our children to navigate the world successfully and happily they must have the inner strength to follow their conscience.
As his wife and the mother of his children, after hearing his parental fundamentals, I can only say that my children and I are the luckiest people in the world. Dads often don’t get the glory and credit they deserve. They are often the pillars of strength that underly all that the world sees in a family, proudly thrusting their wife and children into the public eye then quietly sitting back and watching his family and the world beautifully engage one another. When society sees a lovely family, look at the father and give him the credit he’s due.