It only made sense to post about dad’s, here on Father’s Day. Being a dad (or mom, I’d imagine) is a funny thing. One day you are living your own life, minding your own business, and the next day it hits you. Wham! You’re a parent.
A surge of emotions jolts you to reality. “How did I become a parent? Who allowed this to happen? There’s no test? Not even a pop quiz?” But then, suddenly, you know what to do.
Perhaps it’s instinctual. Perhaps it is deeply ingrained in us and all other species. It’s a part of life. We just know what to do.
It doesn’t mean we always do it right. It doesn’t mean we always do it good. It’s a trial and error. For children, mom and dad are their superheroes. When I join my colleagues in interviewing prospective candidates for open positions we ask the candidates to tell us someone they view as a role model. 80% of the time, it’s a parent. They’re superhuman. They’re infallible.
But still, mistakes happen. Sometimes these hurt children the most because they like to see their parents as perfect. There’s no such thing as perfect. They may have willingly participated in the act of creating life, but that doesn’t mean they were fully prepared. And that’s because you can never fully prepare. It happens and you make the most of it.
One lesson I am lucky to take away from my dad is being able to admit and accept when I am wrong, especially when dealing with children. This pertains to my own two (soon three) children and the many children I work with. I used to pretend I was infallible to them, at fear of disappointing them of the image they had of me. But I make mistakes, and so will they. It’s important that they see me fail and how I deal with it. I can set an example that says this is “how to fail”.
It was one subtle day when I told my dad, “You’re the adult so you’re always right, and I’m the kid so I’m always wrong.” I felt that way. I believed it with my entire existence. So I said it, and I walked away from him and he let me be, but I never expected what came next.
After a little time he asked to talk. I didn’t want to talk, but I listened. I mean, I didn’t really have a ton of say and I wasn’t raised to be utterly disrespectful, but I’m glad I heard what he was saying. The words he used turned a pretty good relationship into a great one. “You know what, you’re right. Just because you’re the child doesn’t mean you’re always wrong, and just because I’m the adult doesn’t always mean I’m right.” Wham. My dad took it, pondered it, tossed it around, accepted it, and conveyed it. It means so much to be heard. To be understood.
One day children will turn into adults. While they may remain your children, they are still adults. They will have learned a great deal from you. They will remember a great deal from you. They will act as you taught them to. That’s what a parent does. They give their children 18 years (give or take) of life lessons to prepare them for when the training wheels come off. I was a lucky one when my wheels came off. I hope you were too. In any event, help make the process easier for others in your life.