(audio for the blog can be found on the Audio Blogs page)
Sooooo, becoming a father is fairly easy. Barring any medical issues, all it really takes is a willing participant and a lack of precautionary measures. Being a dad, now that’s is a whole nother ball game.
I can (now) say that my father did the best he could under the circumstances with the tools he had to parent myself and my sisters. Knowing how to facilitate connection is not an innate trait, it is learned by experiencing it. My father didn’t have any extensive experience as he was orphaned as a fairly young child. He did his best to teach us how to maneuver through the world with tact, respect, and love of God. These lessons came in the form of rules, discipline, and routine. What lacked was connection.
Though I’ve made a bevy of poor decisions, I’ve always presented well, was kind to most everyone I encountered, and knew God to be all. What I lacked was an ability to foster, nurture, and maintain authentic connections. Because I couldn’t do it, I had know way to know the value of it. I was, however, very good at manipulation and conformity. I could coerce people who wanted connection with me to do as I pleased and I could present myself as pleasing to most people that I wanted a connection with. Pretty crappy blueprint for an interactive existence.
So when it came to my daughter, who was born a month after my 18th birthday, choosing to not be present was a choice that sucked more having not adhered to a standard that I was indoctrinated to than the loss of an ever vital connection. I had no clue what I was missing out on.
Let's just fast forward to today, Father’s Day 2018. My relationship with my daughter is awesome, we talk about literally everything! Building and experiencing this connection with her has been great. I wasn’t shaping her person but discovering the woman (don’t tell her I referred to as that) she has become. Where she seeks counsel, I provide it, but the bulk of our interactions are conversational. Just the fact that I’m no longer in constant apology mode is testament to the presence of a connection. The fact that she shares so much of herself with me, that is testament to the value of that connection.
Now I have my 6 year old son whose life I joined after getting sober two and a half years ago. I’ve been trying to guide, and instruct him to become a great human. Sound familiar? Guiding and instructing is only a part of my job as the parent of a still very young child. I literally just figured this out today.
I watched this GoalCast video this morning with Terry Crews about him and parenting (the video is on the ‘Must Sees’ page). He saw his son on the computer and asked what he was playing. He told him he wasn’t playing anything, rather, watching someone else play. Long story shortened, he realized a passion of his sons that he wasn’t attuned to. He went on to buy all the components of a gaming computer and they learned to build a computer together.
I saw this shortly before my son arrived to spend Father's Day together and I realized, I didn’t know my kid. I mean, I know he loves baseball and other little nuggets but I don’t really know what makes him tick. So, after he arrived (with ALL the Bojange’s in tow) we ate and just talked. Honestly, it was more like an interview cause I just asked questions. Apparently, he has a love of underwater creatures. He watches this show called Octonauts that explores all the creatures of the sea. So I spent a reasonable portion of our time watching this show. Googled some videos of the animals they featured so he could see them not in cartoon talking form. Did y’all know there were fish that actually FLEW?! Like out of the water and in the air?! I could write whole sympathy blog about those poor guys life and how they are prey for fowls and sea creatures.
Anyway, what I learned today was that the instructional portion of my parenting is actually rather small. He’s already a great human, I have to let him become the person he wants to be before his authenticity is quashed by my wants for him. If I facilitate enlightenment in his areas of interest and explore them with him, I get to know my son as an individual rather than a spawn-in-training.
Every father isn’t a dad. I became a father when their moms got pregnant; But I’ll be a dad as long I’m the father that is actively trying to know and foster my kids becoming and being the people they feel they are. Knowing this, I’d rather be a dad.
Happy DAD's Day!