Moms have the most difficult job on earth; from conceiving and carrying a child, providing one of the most blessed miracles in mankind by giving birth, and the responsibility of nurturing and watching over their child the rest of its life. Traditionally, moms get most of the credit for the raising of children, and for good reason! Fathers, though are half of the equation of successful parenting, and similar traits are reflected in moms and dads when they work hard at being (good) parents. There is no doubt, though, that for both Mom and Dad, parenting, in general, is one of the hardest jobs on earth—to do it right!
So many people have so many ideas or opinions about what a (good) Dad should be. Strong and disciplined, or maybe saying yes to everything asked or wanted. Being gentle, soft and cuddly, or being a friend and just having fun. While those opinions will always vary based on the personality of the man that is a Dad, my focus reflects on the character of fatherhood and what I think are those best traits.
The author John Green wrote, “The nature of fatherhood is that you’re doing something that you’re unqualified to do, and then you become qualified when you do it.” Many books contain incantations on effective parenting and the role of Fathers, but those instructions barely touch the surface on the actual complexity. To me, the first and most critical step is to love and support Mom (to include the necessary sacrifices) and to work as a team to plot mutual decisions for raising kids. This partnership not only can strengthen a marriage but also demonstrates how relationships can succeed for your kids.
Another important precept is to also love, support, and set good examples for the kids. The more we teach, coach and display love for our children the more likely they will learn how to be responsible adults. The American evangelist and Minister Henry Ward Beecher stated, “We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.” Of course, many mistakes will be made, maybe even a couple that continue to impact kids as they grow into adulthood. Some of us made or will make more mistakes than others, but unconditional love and support for our children is the best parenting that we can provide.
Dads need to spend quality time with their kids. They need to use positive discipline to set boundaries. And Dads need to challenge kids to be the best they can be to help them become accountable persons. Today, there are so many competitive and distractive challenges to effective parenting—thank goodness cell phones, iPads and computers were just hitting the market when our kids were older. Quality time, discipline and encouragement are to me the cornerstones of effective parenting.
In Carrie Underwood’s hit song, “The Girl You Think I Am,” she sings: “You think I’m strong, you think I’m fearless/Even when I’m, I’m at my weakest/You always see the best in me when I can’t/I wanna be the girl you think I am.” This was one of the songs she wrote and performed to express how much she appreciated her Father’s love. No doubt, while most Fathers never expect to hear these words, nonetheless they are something Fathers should all strive to deserve or earn.
A last example of worthwhile aspirations for any Dad comes from the Talmud, the primary source of Jewish religious law and theology, “When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.”
No better examples are needed for the objectives or legacies for the ultimate success and importance of being a (really good) Dad.