By J.W. Holland for The Good Men Project.
Most nights I come home from work and the house quickly erupts into chaos, if it isn’t in that shape before I get home.
Three sons all under the age of 13 tend to bring that type of atmosphere. A full-time job and a wife who is heavily involved in the kids’ school and sporting activities means we are all busy, and at times, overwhelmed. Then, add the fact that we are currently hosting an exchange student from Italy, and you understand, we are a busy family.
Finding quality time for each other at times is hard; finding personal time for ourselves is a near impossibility. Hopefully, others will be able to find these things in their households.
Few nights go by that someone doesn’t cry, or go to bed upset. A lot of nights it’s me! So through all the chaos and hurt feelings, and occasional screaming fits, again usually me, I sometimes look at myself and my family and think I am a complete failure as a dad. It’s at these moments that I have to take a step back and look at the things I am doing correctly.
So in those times, I have observed some things about my sons that give me hope that I am not completely and totally wrecking their lives. Hopefully, others will be able to find these things in their households. These are the five things that help me believe I am not a total screw up as a dad.
Watch: Mamamia staff discuss whether it’s ever okay to smack your child. (Post continues after video.)
1. My kids tell the corniest jokes
They tell the dumbest, most ridiculous jokes in the world — but they find them hilarious, and so do I. There’s nothing better than an eight-year-old trying to tell a joke while laughing at himself because he knows the punchline. Sometimes it’s just a word that makes him laugh. Usually, it is something like ‘booger’ or ‘poop’.
2. They have a firm grasp on sarcasm
This one tends to be more subtle, but when you realise they are becoming students of the art of sarcastic expression, you can rest assured you’ve done at least something right. In a sick sort of way, I get a great deal of pride and pleasure when one of my kids cuts me to the bone with a sarcastic remark. (Post continues after gallery.)
3. Negotiation skills are finely honed
You know your job as a parent is progressing toward success when you realise that through the course of a conversation with your son, he somehow persuaded you to change your mind. This can be achieved in different ways usually depending on age. The two-year-old just screams at us until we relent. The eight-year-old often employs the sad face and the faux act of surrender by slowly walking away, slumped down with the occasional glance over the shoulder to see if we’re watching. The 12-year-old has developed a hybrid approach that includes a combination of the skills learned in the younger stages. However, now he uses his brand of preteen logic to convince or simply confuse us into an agreement.
4. They love their mum
I, as a dad, find myself much more liberal in my approach than the generation that raised me. I tend to let things slide that would have found me sentenced to the Gulag. Those are usually things that, in the grand scheme of life, won’t matter tomorrow. One thing I wouldn’t tolerate is disrespect and especially disrespect to my wife. I am fortunate, though, that I have three sons that do their very best most days to show their love for her. I know that my kids love me, and I know that my relationship is different with them than with their mother. It does, however, warm my heart to see one of them curled up next to her on the couch or simply wanting to be near her while she is in the room.
5. They love each other
Sure they fight, fuss and scream at each other. They go out of the way to annoy each other to the breaking point. They live to torment one another, and each of them would rather die than allow one of their brothers a millisecond of peace. However, the moments when they don’t know you’re watching, and you see the love, be it a kind comment, the sharing of candy or even the occasional I love you, I know that something has gone right, that day at least.
Soon, they will be on their own and dad’s advice won’t be something they are required to follow.
I know I have made a lot of mistakes with my kids, I’ve said things I shouldn’t have, I have ignored them when they needed me, and I’ve been a general ass to them at times. Overreaction sometimes is my middle name, and complete freak outs have been heaped upon them. Many of us have made those mistakes, and while we can beat ourselves up about the missed opportunities or the mistakes, we should never forget to recognise the things we have done right.
With each passing year, it becomes painfully clear how little time I have to influence their lives. I know that soon they will be on their own and dad’s advice won’t be something they are required to follow. I can be encouraged now, however, when I see the positives and be that much more diligent in dealing with the negatives.
I have to remind myself occasionally that I am not a dog trainer or a computer programmer; I am a parent. I can’t train them into obedience, and I can’t program them to be perfect. Many of life’s lessons will have to be experienced, what I can do is prepare them to be ready for those moments.
So when they are grown and hopefully making good decisions and living a positive life, happy in who they are. I will be solidified in the knowledge that I did something right.
What are your proudest parenting moments?
This post was originally published on The Good Men Project. Read the original article.