I went out for dinner with my four year old daughter tonight and at one point it occurred to me that if she had been telling anyone else the story she was reciting to me, they would stare blankly and look for help. To me, however, it made complete sense why the hamburger would eat the bear and then drink some chocolate milk. It’s my job as her father to understand her creative mind and to help foster that creativity by showing her that I am truly interested in the things she has to say. And I very much am.
This past weekend, my six year old son finished fourth place in his karate tournament, even though his dad thought he should have finished higher. I know how hard he worked leading up to it and I was so proud that instead of being disappointed, as I expected he might be, he was all smiles and said he did his very best and was happy with his performance. As a dad, one of my toughest challenges has been finding the balance between preparing them for life’s competitive nature, while also teaching them that winning isn’t everything. Karate was a victory regardless of what the final results said.
The main thing that being a father has taught me is that you are never done learning. It’s easy to ride a bike now that I’ve done it, but teaching my child to ride a bike is a completely different process. The same goes for teaching them how to read, sing, play baseball, skip rope, tie their shoes and almost every other task that I take for granted. My role as a father is quite literally to teach them everything they know, while also giving them the freedom to make mistakes and learn a few lessons on their own. Oh, and I’ve checked but there is no manual for any of this.
Perfection and parenting are two words that do not play nicely together. There are many days where I feel like I haven’t done my best, however I’ve learned that in order to be an effective parent, guilt is best left out of the equation. The ups and downs of being a dad are what drive me to want to be a better parent and person, and I wouldn’t trade the imperfections for anything in the world.
At the end of the day, my mission as dad is simple. Of all the lessons I want to teach my children, Honesty, Compassion, Humility and Love for one’s self are the most important for me. I figure if I can do a great job of turning them into respectful people, the other pieces will fall into place for them. After all, these are the lessons my father taught me before he left us and I am pretty happy with the person I have become because of him.
BIO: Chris Read is a father to two children, ages 6 and 4, and husband to an amazing wife. Chris writes the blog, Canadian Dad, hosts the Creative Minds Podcast and recently launched a new project called, Kindness Canada. You can find Chris on twitter@CanadianDadBlog.