What We Leave Behind

I don’t have a son, or any children for that matter. I’m still trying to grow up myself before I commit to raising someone else. I like to think though that one day I will, and that I’ll be a great father, but the truth is I don’t know if I will be. I look at my life and I wonder; I am a good role model? Could I show a boy how to be a man and lead him into his future? I grew up with a grandfather that amongst other things taught me that there are certain traits and characteristics of a man, certain things that make men what they are. A man should be able to work on a car, his house, and his land. A man should be strong and reliable. He should have a firm handshake and look others in the eye when speaking. He should  be dependable, trustworthy, and a man of character. These are just a few of the things I remember him talking about, but they have stuck with me all my life, because for a long time I have not lived up to those standards.

I hope that if I am fortunate enough to have a son, that he will look back at my life and learn from my mistakes. I have not been the best example of my gender and the regret is something that weighs heavily on my mind. While I know better than most the importance of letting go of the past I also admit the difficulty involved in the deed. Oftentimes my writing, while presented in a format of advice is in reality just self-directed therapy and psycho-analysis. In fact I have often joked that the reason I got into studying psychology was to help myself and save on therapy bills. All jokes aside; I really wish I had been a better person in my twenties. I know that most of the things I do today are attempts at overcoming the mistakes of that decade. I am hoping that what I accomplish in the next two decades will rewrite the biography I have written up until now.

Most of all though, I hope my future children will look back at their father and understand that people make mistakes. I hope they learn that we do idiotic and hurtful things sometimes but it doesn’t define us, or box us in. I hope they will read the things I write one day, look at where I’ve been and what I accomplished and know that they can overcome their flaws and grow beyond their embarrassments and tragedies. As the years move by I find that I am growing more aware of how the things I do, will impact my kids. I sometimes wonder if those of us with kids realize that there is always someone watching us. I want them to know that their dad loved life and lived it . To that end I want my children to be dreamers. I want them to reach beyond just doing the minimum to survive and strive to be extraordinary. I want them to think and believe that anything is possible. Unfortunately I think the lesson that many of us are teaching children today is one of hopelessness and fear.

I know right from the start some people will read this and say, “Well he doesn’t have kids, he doesn’t understand.” You are right my friends I do not have kids but I was like you, once one myself. I also remember as a kid that though I was surrounded by good men, the one I idolized most, and sought above all else to impress was my father. He was to put it lightly not a very good example to follow, but unfortunately for the beginning of my adulthood he was the model I emulated. Today I can look back and see that I was wrong in that, as was my brother. But when you’re a young boy Dad is the word for God in your vocabulary. He’s the man you want to be like. I absorbed every lesson my dad taught me, even the bad ones. I saw the things he did and made them part of who I was. Even though he was gone from my life by the age of ten the damage was done. In the years since I have moved towards becoming my own man and it would be unfair and irresponsible to blame him for my mistakes, but the influence he had on me is undeniable. Just as the influence that our lives will have on our children will be inescapable.

Fathers I ask you to pause for a moment in your life and consider the lessons you are teaching your kids today. Are you showing them the power and resiliency of the human spirit? Do your actions say that it’s not okay to give up or quit. Does your life preach the lesson of being driven and pushing to excel and reach beyond? Or do the things you do every day, or should I say not do, teach a lesson of mediocrity, and bare minimum existence. I know we sometimes talk about how parents today are teaching their kids to be too competitive in sports, but are we teaching them to settle for less when it comes to life. Is the lesson at home one of gratitude for barely enough? Men and fathers are more than whatever are jobs and occupations are. We should be leaders and inspiration. We should light a path to better things, not lead the march to drudgery and complacency. The best thing we can leave our children is the notion that there is more and they can have it.

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