It’s Father’s Day, and this past week has involved a lot of thinking about fatherhood. One friend is creating a time capsule for his newborn to be opened in 18 years and is wondering what to write in a letter to him; another friend wakes up today to his first Father’s Day without a father; I personally have been “missing the mark” in my own fathering and have been reflecting deeply on how to be a dad.
Three quick thoughts
First, if you have a living father, speak to him today – not just a quick hello, but hopefully to truly connect for a moment – laugh, share, reflect. For my friend who lost his father, today he wakes up and knows he can never speak with his dad again. It doesn’t take time, it takes heart.
Second, if you are a father, remember that your overarching responsibility/role is to let your children know and feel that you completely love them. Every dad is imperfect. Ever dad regrets things he didn’t do or say, and other things he did do or say. However, studies show, and intuition confirms, that if your children know you love them, things will probably work out ok. And if you answer every question with “how can I act in a loving way”, it’s pretty easy shorthand for the right answer.
Third, encourage your sons (in particular) to have other “father figures”. Many dads (including often, yours truly) really want to be it all – the mentor, the parent, the friend, the counselor, etc. But it turns out that the most centered and happy men find and develop second father-like figures in their life who often balance and support the things that their father didn’t provide. Rather than resist that, we should encourage it. You don’t have to do it all, and in fact, developing other close mentors is an important driver of growth later in someone’s life.
Happy Father’s Day! Share your tips in the comments section!