Guilt is a great motivator. Well, maybe not every time, but sometimes it certainly can be.
When you have kids, something happens. It may not happen overnight, but it happens. You start to think differently about things. You suddenly start to notice the words and images that are used on TV shows and commercials, when you never noticed them before. One of the things that surpised me after my boys were born was that I started to critique cartoons. Yes, cartoons. I actually was turned off by things like the pervasive violence that I saw that I never noticed before. No wonder my kids wanted to beat all over each other… they watched it all day long on cartoons! I started to notice all the things, or lack of things, that women wore on TV, in print ads, and everywhere. Things that I used to think were no big deal were now a big deal to me.
I think that every parent goes through this, and if you are a parent reading this then I imagine you are shaking your head with me. My boys are now teenagers and there are other things that I worry about, much bigger things in my opinion. I still worry about the things they are seeing and hearing. I cringe when we are watching a TV show or movie together and I hear that curse word or that crude sexual reference. Yeah, I know they probably hear much worse at school, but still. I worry about how they perceive their lives, and whether or not they are happy. Most kids who are bullied never tell their parents, and I worry about that too.
And I feel guilty about alot.
I feel guilty that maybe I didn’t do everything that I should have done for them. I feel guilty that I am not as good a parent as I could have been. Maybe I was too harsh with my words, or too hard in my punishments, or expected too much of them too soon. Maybe I didn’t praise them enough, or encourage them enough. Maybe I didn’t hug them enough or say I love you enough. And I feel alot of guilt that maybe I could be a better example to them.
So what is a father supposed to do about that? Well, I have decided to look to my boys for the answer, because my guilt is balanced with other things.
They are both incredibly smart, straight A students. They both laugh all the time, and love to joke around. They argue like any brothers would, but they are also good friends. They are talented, they are giving, and they say ‘yes sir’ and ‘yes maam’. They are leaders among their friends, they care about others, and they rarely disappoint me.
So maybe they are great kids despite how I may have messed things up. Or maybe, just maybe, I did something right. And maybe the guilt isn’t so bad after all.