What fatherhood isn’t

I’ve been reflecting on some things.  Post Father’s Day, I’ve thought about my own dad.  I thought I would write about that today.  It’s grim, I’ll warn you now, but it’s truth.

Fatherhood. What can I possibly say about fatherhood? I suppose I could say that it’s many things, but I think I’d like to say what it isn’t. Much of my family and friends know about my site, which doesn’t allow me to be frank about some opinions I have because of the unnecessary drama it may cause, or the awkward conversations that could come about at a family gathering. While some of my friends know I’m associated with Dad Revolution, my family doesn’t. That said, allow me to be frank.

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a dad. What it is, and what it isn’t. I find myself with a boiling frustration with my kids sometimes. You know what I’m talking about, the whining, the falling apart over things that are small and inconsequential. When this happens, I think of my own father.

Like any father and son, there are wars. While my father and I wared, it was mostly one sided. He was mad. Angry. He was upset about not having a better circumstances, hated his job, was battling depression. All of these things ultimately amounted to a father who needed someone to take it out on. Enter in me. I was generally the first to say hi to my father when he walked in the door. I was also the first to get a punishment for something arbitrary like leaving something in the hallway. I had some good times as a kid, don’t get my wrong, but there was some roughness that took place in my life living under my father’s roof that were torturous. I got grounded a lot. He spanked me without prejudice. He used a belt. I have many reflective moments sitting on my bed next to the belt that would whip me, waiting for him to come beat me with it. He scared me. He intimidated me. I was afraid to ask him anything. Ultimately I stood up to him, and by 17 I was out of the house. He pawned me off on his brother in Tennessee who put me in a tough position of having to pay rent. I eventually move back home, and back into my house. My father was a tyrant, even more than usual. It didn’t take long for him to kick me out altogether. I was barely 18 at the time. All of these issues ultimately contributed to my having to drop out of high school. For years, even now, I struggle with the animosity I have for my father. He was a dick when I was a kid, and now, he’s pretty much still a dick.

Sometimes we have to use examples of what NOT to do in order to figure out the right thing to do. I worried about being a parent for a long time. When my wife and I were about to have our first child, I was scared to death we’d have a boy first. You see, I come from a long line of first born sons, and the way I was treated was a tradition handed down from generation to generation. I was afraid of that tradition continuing.

We had a girl first. My saving grace. She broke the tradition. She created a different situation and ultimately a different mindset. As a result, I felt renewed and knew it was my chance to create a different home for my children than the home I grew up in. It was so important to me to be a good dad, a loving dad. A father that could be relied upon and trusted. It’s true that I get pretty frustrated and pissed sometimes, but in the back of my mind is the truth of the monster I could become. I keep it at bay. I don’t, and will never spank my children. I don’t judge anyone that does, to each their own. Spanking my child means something completely different to me. It’s a place I can’t go to. I refuse to.

My children have taught me so much. My children represent redemption, a break in bad habits genetically passed down. I’m doing my best to be a good father, and that goodness comes from within. It comes from making the conscience decision to be different. To be a good father. My kids complete me, and I am thankful for that.

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