Monday, March 11, 2013

Reality

     The bad thing about writing about being a dad, especially when you try to write about being a better dad, is that you create a standard that you have to live up to.  I feel like every time I post something, there should be a disclaimer, "The author generally fails to follow his own advice."  There has been more than a few times when I have been asked my wife, "Do you ever read your blog?"  It's a harsh reminder that the most important people to me know the truth about what I am like.  There is no pretending to be someone I am not.  The blog they read is the one I live out in front of them from day to day.

     I'm not a bad dad, I don't think, but I often wonder if I'm a good dad.  I want to be this rational, empathetic, 1950's TV dad that knows just what to say in every difficult situation, who imparts pearls of wisdom with wit and humor, and who never loses his cool.  Unfortunately I think they see me more like a screaming, wild, nut-case who is overwhelmed and out of control.

     Other dad's seem to have a better handle on things.  I look at my brother, a leader in his church, always spending time with his kids.  His wife is always posting on Facebook the wonderful things he does for her and the kids.  That's what I want to be.  That's what I try to be, but I'm always coming up short.

     As my kids are getting older, they seem to be getting more obstinate and defiant.  I expect that comes with the age and will get worse throughout the teen years.  How much of that is my fault though.  How many of their bad behaviors have they learned from me.  How much of it is do to mistakes I've made in my parenting?  How much is due to the fact that I often feel like life is a minivan full of kids hurtling down the highway at full speed with no brakes and it's everything I can do just to keep the wheels on the road.

     Certainly I'm not the only parent that feels this way.  Maybe there are those who have it all figured out.  They have perfected the whole child-rearing thing and have raised up respectful and obedient children who only need the occasional mild correction.  If so, then can they come to our house and help us out?

     It's easy to list things I need to improve upon in my life.  I need to focus more on my spiritual walk and relationship with God.  I look at the list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.  Many of those are lacking in my life, were I to be honest.  These are vital to being a good parent.  Maybe I need more time with my kids.  Maybe I'm just lazy when it comes to being a dad.

     I'm not trying to beat myself up.  I think that there are a lot of good things Karlye and I have done as parents.  I think we are raising good kids.  I just wish it was easier and there was a guarantee that if we do A, B, and C, everything will go effortlessly.  Unfortunately it doesn't work like that.

     Raising kids is hard work.  A family is a messy thing, and I'm not talking about the house.  I am going to make mistakes.  Sometimes I will do the right thing and it will still blow up in my face.  I don't mind the noise and clutter. I just want to know that I'm doing the best I can to raise the best kids I can.  I want my kids to be able to look back when they are adults and say that their mom and I were a positive influence in their lives.  I want them to be proud of where they came from.

     Fortunately, every day is a fresh start.  I can begin today to make the personal changes in my life that I need to make.  Yesterday's mistakes don't have to be repeated. I can admit my failures and my children can learn from me that God uses imperfect people, if they allow themselves to be used.  Most of all, everyday I am encouraged, because as hard as it gets, as frustrating as it can be, there is no greater experience in the world than being a parent.  I have the best teammate imaginable in my wife.  I have the best kids in the world.  I wouldn't trade one bit of it for anything.