If a father makes everything perfect in his children’s lives they may admire him for his perfection, but do they love him?
There is a growing admiration of the pretty bright shiny things. All those eye-catching things that the preachers of consumerism keep throwing our way. Like the so called famous people, who have no talent. The biggest fanciest televisions, that can no longer be repaired. The fastest cars, boats, motorcycles and other toys, that are difficult to afford. I could go on but I think you know what I mean.
As a father, we always say we want the best for our children. We want to give them what we never had as children. We want their lives to be easier than ours. We want our children’s prosperity to be greater than ours.
These are great wants and very honorable desires … but what exactly is it that we want our children to have more of, and at what costs?
Do these desires as a parent mean that we have to continually be reaching deep into our pockets, or lines of credit, in order to purchase the newest and fanciest items for our children. Do we have to work two jobs to make sure that our children are fully involved each minute of the day in activities? Do our children need to have more structured experiences by the time they turn sixteen, than we did by the time we turn forty? Did we turn out that bad that we have to kill ourselves to make sure our children don’t turn out lesser than us? So that they seem to have more than we did when we were children. Is that what wanting more for our children means?
What is it that children really need? They need parents that provide them with stability and certainty with their presence, not presents. They need parents that will challenge them to grow a balanced and full childhood. A childhood that is filled with a variety of childhood experiences, not adulthood experiences. They need to learn that being a child is extremely important. That this stage of their life needs to be filled with childhood dreams, not their parents unfulfilled dreams.
Most importantly, children need to be loved. They need their parents to be there for them. To be with them as they grow and learn. They need to learn this love from their parent, not from an app on their new tablet. And they need to make mistakes so that they learn that everything they do isn’t perfect. They need to learn that there are no participation ribbons in the real world. As children we learned from our mistakes. Mistakes are valuable learning opportunities, we need to stop taking this away from our children.
Can a relationship with our child that is based on admiration of perfection be permanent? Can this form of admiration last forever? Or does this admiration diminish in time, as the child finds out that their father is not perfect. Admiration of perfection is fleeting in that way. Just like all those other bright shiny things that don’t last.
Striving to be a perfect father takes away from our ability to be human. To be a good father you must love, to love you must be human. True lasting love has a difficult time surviving within perfection. The pursuit of being admired for perfection can have a smothering effect on a relationship. And like everything else, when smothered it will die.
Sometimes we even need to make mistakes and learn with our children. We need to be less than perfect to be perfect. When a father makes mistakes, and learns with his children, his child learns that life is about continual learning. When a child sees their father learning from the mistakes he makes, the child learns that they do not need to feel that they have to be perfect. They learn to not smother themselves. They also learn the extremely important virtues of humility and forgiveness. These virtues can only be learned where imperfection exists. Where reality exists.
The other virtue that is taught through imperfection is love. A child’s love is the true admiration of a father. When a father can laugh with his child about the mistakes they make. When they can learn together through those mistakes. The bond that is created is everlasting. The love that is created is everlasting. This is a love that is not fleeting like the admiration of the next bright shiny thing that comes along.
Teaching your child that you love yourself, even though you are not perfect, is one of the greatest teachings a father can ever give to their child. This one thing alone will most likely give your child more than you had ever received as a child.