A while ago at work a few of my colleagues were asked to write down some encouraging words for each other, which is always nice. We shared what we’d received and then went back to our desks with a bit more of a spring in our steps.
I’m glad to say that the most obvious theme from the notes handed to me was about being a great dad. As nice as that was, it quickly dawned on me that none of the people around that table had actually ever seen me with my children, so they don’t really have a clue about what kind of dad I am!
And that got me thinking … do I just create the image of being a great dad because that’s what I want people to think? Or is there more to it than that?
Please don’t think this post is designed as some kind of compliment-fishing exercise! All things considered, I know that I’m a good dad. I love, care and provide for my children, and am secure in the fact that they think I’m doing a good job too.
But it’s all too easy as a parent to slip into a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality. The pressure is probably most intense with a newborn, as first-time parents refuse let the facade of peace and harmony slip … perhaps because they struggle to admit to themselves that this parenting lark isn’t quite as idyllic as they dreamed it would be. And the danger of pretending things are better than the reality never really goes away.
Having said that, I’d like to think that I’m part of a generation of young parents who are breaking that particular mould. I believe that our culture (at least in the UK) is shifting towards being more acceptable of vulnerability and honesty, because that’s what people need to develop integrity and trust – two increasingly rare (and therefore greatly valued) virtues.
And I think our children will benefit for from this. I want to be honest with my kids when I’ve had a good day, as well as when things aren’t quite as rosy. All I hope is that this attitude filters through in a way that helps create a couple of well-balanced individuals who are honest with themselves and others.
After all, I know I’ll always make mistakes and never be truly great, but I just want to be a good dad.