December 03, 2009

A Father's Obligation- Mistakes Happen

Some of you are going to be shocked by this, but I hate saying I am sorry and I hate making mistakes. For a long time I found it to be very difficult to say I was sorry. I can give you an explanation for why. I can talk about being forced to apologize as a child and how it soured me on it, but what is the point.

Once I became a father I made a promise to myself that I would try my best to help my children become people of character and integrity who didn't adopt my negative traits. I looked at those kids and saw a world of opportunity for them to take advantage of.

So I have worked hard to help them try to avoid and or overcome the challenges that I have faced. I have a list of things that I want to teach them. It includes many things such as how to lose gracefully and maintaining perspective on life.

I see my job as a father to give them the tools to succeed in life. So when I talk about helping them to avoid and or overcome challenges sometimes that means letting them succeed or fail without intervention. Somewhere in here there is a post about that.

But let's return to my lead about apologies and mistakes. In many ways my son is a clone of me. I won't lie and say that I am not pleased by some of that, but I won't say that I am completely satisfied either. I want him to be better. I don't want him to suffer the slings and arrows I have created because I did something foolish.

So we have sat down and had several discussions about why it is important to apologize and why it is ok to make mistakes. It is an interesting discussion and something that resonates with me in large part because I feel like we live in an unforgiving environment.

I listen to some parents talk to their children and I shake my head. They excoriate them for not being top of the class or the best athlete. They badger and sometimes belittle them for not being the lead dog. Little mistakes are met with derision.

That doesn't meet with the Jack seal of good housekeeping. I want my kids to do their best. I want them to try hard. I expect them to be among the top in their class because they are smart enough to do it. I will push and encourage them to maintain that place. But I won't beat them up to make it happen.

I let them know that I expect them to make mistakes. I expect them to learn from them and not repeat them. When necessary I expect them to apologize. If want to teach them to be good it includes teaching them compassion. It includes teaching them to accept apologies from others just as I expect them to give them.

Accountability, responsibility and love. Three simple things. That is an incomplete list, but it provides some of the basic guidelines.

Every week I bless them because at the end of the day I want them to understand that no matter what has happened  their parents love them. It is not easy being a father, but I'd never give it up.

(Editor's note: In the near future I am going to try and provide a post that provides links to everything I have written about the kids.)


Kelly @ The Miller Mix said...

Those are the most important guidelines. It sounds as though you are leading them on the right path.

thecheekofgod said...

Best of luck. This parenting thing often feels like something we can plan and execute with precision, but then darn it if they don't find a wrench to turn . . .


Stick to it. Be consistent. And have the flexibility to adapt when necessary . . .

Jack said...

Hi Kelly,

Well, I think that we are on to something. Only time will tell for certain, but most of the time I feel pretty good about it.


Consistency and adaptability are key points. I think you are right.

Lady-Light said...

It truly sounds as if you are working very hard at being a good father, by that, I mean an involved, caring parent who does more than 'let the kids raise themselves,' but actively teaches them values to live by.
I know so many people who allow their kids just 'to be,' and do the minimum of feeding, educating and clothing them.
Keep up the good (hard) work.

bernthis said...

I love this post. I too used to find it very hard, if not impossible to apologize. Not anymore. I always make sure to clean up my side of the street.

I tell my kid all the time, if you can go to bed at night and know you did the best you could at whatever it was you were doing well than no one can ask anymore of you