Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Post-Father's Day Thoughts

Father's Day is one of those bittersweet days around our house. C. lost his dad two years ago, so of course Father's Day is a reminder of that loss. C. also doesn't get to see his kids as often as he would like, so that's a bit bittersweet as well. I am guessing here, but I think it's also hard for him to feel good about being a good parent -- one who sets boundaries and disciplines his kids -- because he doesn't want that to be the only thing his kids know and remember about him.

Because his kids are not my kids, I have a unique perspective on his parenting, though. I think I see things that he doesn't even realize. I think C. is a wonderful father -- especially because he does offer them boundaries and consequences. I think they are learning some excellent life skills from him because of that. I think there are far too many parents out there these days who are not willing to say "no" to their children for fear of being the bad guy. Really, it's just good parenting that helps shape children into self-sufficient, functioning adults.

I told C. this weekend that I don't remember all of my childhood, but there are some very specific and strong memories that I have about each parent. Since we're talking about dads, I'll focus on my memories about my dad from my childhood:

He was/is the king of road trips -- he could drive straight through for 21 hours. Some of my best memories from childhood are of those road trips. He organized all the family bike rides. He made really thick hamburgers and pots of spaghetti sauce with nine cloves of garlic. He loved to cook for us. He loved/loves to read and I think my love of reading came from his example. When I got a little older - 10 or 11 - he would talk to me about philosophy and religion, and he listened to my opinion and my persepctive.

As for C., I think his kids will remember his blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes. Annie* will remember him teaching her to ride her bike. They will remember long hours swimming and diving and playing with Daddy at the pool. His funny faces and voices. His bedtime reminders to them that they are "smart, strong, handsome/beautiful and funny."

Dads have amazing gifts to give their children that are different from moms' gifts. I hope all you dads out there realize that you have a unique role in the lives of your children. You matter -- a lot.

I also just want to stop to remember the people who have lost their fathers, as well as those men who would like to be fathers but can't be for whatever reason (infertility doesn't just affect women physically and emotionally - the men feel it, too). Father's Day is hard for them, so be gentle.
* Names have been changed.

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