To date I’ve read a grand total of two books on pregnancy. It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong and Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy from the Mayo Clinic. That’s not because I am not interested in my wife’s pregnancy. I spent time in the book store flipping pages, surfed some on the web and consulted my wife’s reading list. Those were what was left over.
In preparation I found myself skimming parenting books as well. If there’s a plethora of shit-on-a-shingle pregnancy advice out there the amount of parenting prattle is a whole house worth, like a McMansion sized one, too boot. You might ask, “well, who are you to judge, you haven’t raised a kid yet?” Well, I don’t. But, I know bullshit when I smell it and a lot of it is. Thus far, there’s an equally short list of sources I’m interested in and one of which is done by a friend of mine, the metal dad, who I read almost as much for his general life insights as the “advice” and who I’m jealous of since he essentially has beaten me to the punch on what I was planning on turning these kinds of posts into.
There is one thing I’ve learned so far in my short journey into fatherhood, at least in terms of the child. I need to be a father. Not a friend. Not someone they want to hang out with. Not someone they look over to. A father. Plain and simple. Thus, I need to have a dear padawan moment…
Put simply, life is about relationships. The relationship with one’s self; parents and rest of their family; friends, acquaintances and enemies; teachers, mentors and bosses; fellow students, coworkers and colleagues; the environment and the world around us we struggle to describe; heros, both real and imagined and similarly those we aspire to not be like; and so on.
Successful relationships are those where the roles are realistically defined and acted upon in such a way that realistic expectations can be set and therefore met. Successful relationships thrive, however, when expectations fall short of reality or when expectations aren’t met. The relationship is set up for understanding how and why there was a breakdown of expectations and, yet, the relationship is still conducive for resetting new expectations to be subsequently successful. If this sounds like SMART goal setting, well, in some ways, it kind of is.
Unsuccessful relationships are everything successful relationships are not. The roles are ambiguous or conflicting or not accepted by all parties involved. The expectations are fleeting. They might be either too lofty and excessive or too shallow and narrow. The understanding of reality might not be agreed upon. And, there might be no communication pathway to help produce a situation for success.
Generally, this is utopian. It requires the utmost maturity from all worldly experienced parties involved. It assumes a great deal of humility from the humble parties involved. It requires a critical use of intellect from the roundly educated parties involved. However, even short of utopia, what makes relationships actually successful is both parties eventually agreeing upon their positions within the relationship and respecting that.
Thus, we can boil this down to respect. Respect for experience. Respect for knowledge. Respect for humility. And, most importantly independent respect for one’s self as much as respect for the other party. Those are some pretty deep thoughts. The kind of stuff that’s beyond Jack Handy…
I bring this up because I am not here to be your friend. I’m not even necessarily here to be your mentor or teacher in the traditional sense of how those titles were kept.
I am here to be your father.
This is not just because in the eyes of the regulatory system, the judicial system and the cultural norms at the time of writing this require me to do so. It is because I chose this role.
The expectation of a parent-jedi by the youngling will change through the youngling’s continued growth and development as they acquire experience, knowledge and understanding. The youngling will desire automity and freedom before they are ready.
The parent-jedi will, of course, seek to protect the relationship untill the appropriate lessons are learned. Some of this is because the parent-jedi desires the youngling to learn the lesson while mitigating the possibility of unnecessary and potentially damage to the youngling themselves. Some of this might be the parent-jedi seeking to mitigate the youngling’s actions from damaging the parent-jedi themselves. And, some of it might be the parent-jedi learning along the way how to be a parent-jedi at the same time the youngling is learning how to acquire experience, knowledge and understanding in the context of the regulatory system, the judicial system and the cultural norms.
The expectation of a youngling will change too. It will attempt to push the bounds of every relationship it comes in contact with. Sometimes this will produce positive results. Sometimes it will feel like it produces less than positive ones.
It will always feel like both the positive and not-so-positive ones will be negative to the youngling. Unfortunately, that’s part of the growth that goes with graduating from padawan to jedi.
Sorry. Maturity, experience, intelligence and humility take a lot to evolve and there is no way you have evolved that far yet, and, if you think you believe you have that’s how I know you haven’t. At the time of writing this, I know I still lack the requisite experience and intelligence among other things to be a guru but I have the maturity and humility to acknowledge it.
I will readily admit, I will make mistakes as a father along the way. All fathers do. We are, after-all human. Your mother likely would admit it as well but, I cannot speak for her, it’s not my place.
My hope is you won’t hate me as you come to terms with that. I won’t hate you. Or think less of you. Or
Although, I expect you will hate me at times. All kids do. Well most.
I don’t necessarily remember hating my parents. I do remember not liking myself. That sucked too. That’s a different letter I’ll try to write another time. But, don’t hate yourself, you are you, if you are being the best you you can be embrace that. It gets better.
If you do find yourself hating me. I am sorry. My intent is never to induce that strong of a disposition. Hopefully there is a way for us to find a common ground to converse and discover where the chasm of acceptance and respect is derived and bridge it in a healthy way that resets the expectations to our relationship.
If you don’t find yourself hating me. Well, why the fuck not?? Heh.
The reality is the dynamic should be some point between the two.
You should challenge me. You should challenge yourself. You should challenge the entire world around you. Those “friends.” Those “enemies.” Those other sorts who seek to influence you and your expectations…as well as those who also challenge the expectations that previously influenced you and the foundation of your expectations.
You should be “oppressed” due to the regulatory system, the judicial system and the cultural norms that require you to conform within an honest assessment of realistic expectation.
You cannot rebel until you experience real and deserved repression and experience isn’t a passing notion it is a deep seeded intellectual, psychological and physiological disposition. If your denial of privileges rises to that level you and I will undertake I revolution I assure you.
Let me reiterate this. If something is wrong. Really wrong, like you are being intellectually, psychologically and physiologically abused in any way whatsoever we will explore it together honestly and openly. If we need a mediator I will be open to it. I will not ignore your pleas and thus, you shouldn’t repress the feelings. But, I’m your father. I also get it. There are things you won’t tell me explicitly. That is fine. I won’t pry. Seriously though, if you need to tell someone, let me point you in the right direction. Chances are I know someone who can relate. On the chance I don’t, I will help you find a healthy way to express it. I admit my limitations but I would like to feel a strength I have is my network of willing, experienced and credible sources.
My point here is not that I will be your “friend” or even the perfect “father” but that I can point you in the right direction for “positive outcomes” given the right circumstances. When all else fails, my intent is to point you in the “best” direction for “the best possible outcomes” given the “best understanding” of the circumstances.
I will be your father. I will back you most of the times, on most things assuming you’re being responsible and honest and forthright and sincere to yourself, to your mother and I and the rest of your friends and family, and to those who you may have harmed in some way. I will do my best to give you the benefit of the doubt until you or the abundance of evidence proves you otherwise. And, even then, I will give you the best of my ability to redeem yourself. We all produce outcomes that are less than ideal. We all must come to terms with those outcomes… and as best as I can, I will help you find positives out of those outcomes as much as you allow me to.