“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it”
~ Clarence Budington Kelland
“I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich”
~ M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”
~ David O. McKay
Was your dad Superman?
Did you spend your formative years cursing the very ground he walked on, only to realise years later that actually, he was a pretty cool dad?
Are you a dad now and recognise, finally, what your father had to go through?
Or was your dad someone who was never there, never supportive, never manning up to the job? And now you’re a parent you understand even less how he could have been that way?
I confess, I struggle with fatherhood.
I don’t know who my father is. It’s a big family secret – in fact it’s not even that because no one other than my mum and me ever knew – but I didn’t really understand what having a great dad felt like.
I had a step father at 9 who I love dearly, but I never had that little girl and her daddy relationship.
It doesn’t bother me. Not at all. I guess I’m curious, especially now my husband is a dad with a 4 year old girl who has him wrapped around her little finger.
So I thought to myself, what should a great dad be? What should he offer? How could he shape our impressionable children?
Some of us never knew our fathers. But then that affords you the opportunity to start from scratch; wipe the slate clean; be the superhero your children need.
This is the dad I would have wanted:
When you’re 15 and doing things you don’t want your parents to know about, goodness knows where, don’t you want to have someone you really really trust that you can turn to and know that you won’t be lectured or have your problems analysed?
My dad would listen, just listen. And at least try to understand.
When he got something wrong he would admit it. Say ‘doh, I messed up little girl. Do you forgive me?’
People would admire and respect him for being totally straight with them – it wouldn’t always be what they wanted to hear, but it would be considered and straight from the heart.
He would never make wild promises he couldn’t keep, but he would always always keep his word when he did.
He wouldn’t be afraid to say ‘I love you baby girl’ when we’re in the queue and the supermarket and everyone can hear.
It’s really easy to lose your temper. Far easier than remaining calm and collected and talking things through.
He would sit me on his lap and hug me tight and say to me: “I’m really cross with you honey. Really upset that you would do such a thing. Let’s talk about it and see if we can’t put it right together, eh?”
And I would want to put it right. For him.
He would chase me through the park pretending to be a monster with his arms over his head and pretending to have big teeth. Even if the park is packed with families.
He would try to ride my little girl bike and look all daft with his knees almost touching his shoulders as he peddled.
He would try silly voices when he reads me a bedtime story.
He would be able to do a top impression of THE Goofy.
He would know when to put his foot down. He would let me get away with a LOT. But he would know when to draw the line.
I would respect him for this.
Happy with life
If his job sucked or he’d had a shitty day or he’d argued with mum, he would do his best to shield me from it.
He would laugh at life; let the bad things slip off his back, see problems as challenges to be tackled.
His family would be all he needs to see him through.
And he would make me feel loved. Totally, unquestionably loved.
Have I painted an unrealistic picture here? Am I dreaming/setting the bar too high?
What have you learned from your dad (or your mum for that matter)?