I think most dads would agree that their dad-ness is influenced in large part by the things that their dad did. I know that’s true in my life. My childhood was a normal one I think, with lots of great memories of family vacations, yard work, playground fights, and generally being a kid.
I struggle every day with my desire to be a good dad and my desire for my kids’ happiness. I think I am doing a good job, but there are always doubts in the back of your mind that you are really doing all the right things. I think that is probably normal. And often I think about my dad and the way that he raised us.
Looking back, I remember that I looked at my dad as the guy who had the answers. In fact, I still rely on him like that on many levels. When things got dicey, dad was the guy we ran to. He was the one whose approval we sought, and a cross look from dad spoke volumes. Now that I am a dad, I am smart enough to realize that he was going through many of the same thoughts and feelings that I have. I guess that as kids we put our dad on a pedestal and looked at him like he was bigger than life. But the truth is that he was just like us, struggling to make the right decisions.
I am also realizing that even though I am now ‘walking a mile in his shoes’ because I am now a dad, it’s just a little different. Because I am not really walking in his shoes. I am walking down the same road that he did, but I have my own shoes. After I walked a bit in his, I found my stride, and put on my own shoes. They look like his, for sure, because fathers have a profound influence on their kids. But I am doing it my own way. I look to his example and try my very best to emulate the good things I learned from him about how to treat my children.
But these aren’t my dad’s shoes, they’re mine. And I’m good with that.