Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

I realized at a very early age that I was going to have to look for parenting role models outside my family. I knew even as a young child that neither of my parents were who I wanted to be like when I grew up. And over the decades I found myself making note of those qualities I thought made a good parent—and tried to adopt as many as I could as I raised my children.

Some of the qualities of a good father (or mother, for that matter...):

1) Sees and nurtures the best in the child—and helps the child build on those strengths.

2) Encourages the child to believe in him or herself.

3) Loves deeply and gives of himself AND sets good limits on the child's behavior.

4) Helps out the child whenever it's a good idea AND knows when to step back and allow the child to discover what he or she can do on his/her own.

5) Admits mistakes and knows how to apologize.

6) Cheers on a child's success AND knows that surviving failure can be just as important and sometimes more so and helps the child know that failure is NOT the end of the world but only a beginning to the next steps forward.

7) Teaches the child financial responsibility, how to handle credit and the value of deferred gratification.

8) Reads and reads to his child and encourages a love of learning—whether book learning or life skills.

9) Encourages a child to be true to him or herself AND to think about others as well.

10) Sets an example of moderation in all things.

11) Is willing to be silly and play like a child.

12) Is willing to be a grownup and make the hard decisions when that's what's called for.

13) Cares enough to set limits and hold to them.

14) Shows the child how to be as safe as possible in a sometimes uncertain world AND encourages that child to LIVE, really LIVE even if that sometimes entails risks.

15) Understands that the harm a parent does goes far deeper than any harm anyone else can do just as the good is better than anyone else can do--AND HE CHOOSES TO DO THE GOOD.

I have known some wonderful men in my life. It wasn't just luck—I looked for them. Because I knew that I didn't want to live afraid or believing that every man would be abusive or hurt me. I am profoundly grateful to those men who helped me feel safe or helped me to grow to become the person I am now. Some of those men have done both. Some have been friends or married to friends and it was/is a joy to watch how loving some relationships can be.

Today I honor all those men who have been truly loving fathers—or tried their best to be.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),



Mary said...

Thanks April for visiting my site, and thanks for the comment...wish I had a dad like that..Mary

Kahless said...

My father doesnt fulfill any of those criteria.

Karma said...

I completely agree that we can choose those that will fill our parent roles as adults.

therapydoc said...

What a beautiful list. Thanks. I'm bookmarking it.

gypsy-heart said...

I always told my children that biological doesn't necessarily mean love. Like you, I found what I needed for parents in various places.

I also embraced lessons learned from my parents of how NOT to be..big ones and little lessons. I tried to use them to be a better Mother to my children.

Of course, I made mistakes too so hopefully my children learned lessons from my mistakes.

It is all so complex this circle of The older I get the more I realize all was not as it appeared or appears. :)

Peace of heart to you!

Clueless said...

That list was painful. I felt like a bird with my face turned away half reading it with one eye. The end was great for me because had it not been for some of those men, I would not be in a healthy marriage now or this far in my healing.

keepers said...

Dear April_Optimist

This was a very good, no frills post that exemplifies what kind of man or womean we need in our lives as a parent and as a friend and even a spouse or significant other.

peace and blessings


Perfect said...

That is a wonderful list. Afraid my "Father's Day" post isn't quite so uplifting. :o)

April_optimist said...

Thank you all. I didn't have a father like this either. I wish I had. But I can imagine what it would have been like to have a father like that. I can imagine what a difference it would have made to me and who I am if I had. And i can use the knowledge to choose how I will parent my own children.