Come on. You’ve said it at least once. And while in most cases you were probably being hard on yourself, on occasion it was probably true. And you know what? That’s OK. You know what else? It’s going to happen again. And that’s OK too.
Being a dad isn’t about being perfect and always having the answers. If your goal is to be the perfect dad you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s that simple. If your goal is to be there for your kids and for them to know you love them then you’re on the right track.
I personally think it’s important for kids to see us fail. They need to see us suck at being parents now and again. They also need to see us forgive ourselves and move past it. Because when it happens, they know it. There’s no denying it and they’re not stupid. So don’t try to cover it up. But be mature enough to recognize it, admit it and then acknowledge and move on and make the right choices moving forward. For a kid to see you recover from a mistake, own it and then move on let’s them know that it’s OK to be human as long as you recognize it and make the proper adjustments.
You’re going to burn the toast (and then try to hide it with more butter). You’re going to misjudge. You’re going to get the wrong kind of bread (or not the kind mom buys). You’re going to forget to send in the permission slip. You’re going to ruin their favorite sweater by putting it in the dryer. You’re going to miss a call now and then or blame the wrong kid. You’re even going to over react once in a while (hard to believe I know). We all have bad days and take it out on the kids by yelling at them for not cleaning their room. You’re going to hurt their feelings on occasion. The truth is we all lose it. But how we lose it is up to us. And how we recover is also up to us. How we react to the negativity, to our mistakes, to our downfalls is being watched very closely.
Listen, sucking as a parent is an art form. One that comes quite easily to most of us. So welcome to the club. It’s a very, very, very large club. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat with my head in my hands as I’ve envisioned one of my kids in a therapist’s office recanting the events of the past thirty minutes. I’ve beaten myself up more than once for how I handled a situation knowing I could have done better and need to do better next time. No one’s been harder on me than me (yes even harder than my ex wife). And that’s usually about the time one of the kids comes over, gives me a hug and says, “it’s OK dad.” It’s then that I realize maybe I’m not doing that bad a job after all.