Good Dad/Bad Dad
Do's and Don'ts from the Trenches

A Father's Day Message for the Rearing Impaired

Fatherhood is the single greatest experience you will ever encounter in life. (Unless you’re Hugh Hefner.) I’m convinced of that.

Taking on the role of “dad” comes with rewards beyond human imagination. Having children will warm your heart and satisfy your soul like nothing else. And the love you feel for them -- OMG -- is so deep, so strong, so infinite, it’s almost scary. You think you love your wife? You think you love your parents? That’s nothing compared to the way you love your children.

Conversely, fatherhood will blindside you with challenges and responsibilities that were unfathomable to you before you had kids. And you’re never prepared for these challenges because you never know what problem might rear its ugly head. Or when.

Okay, shake it off, big guy. Because once this reality sinks in and you realize that fatherhood takes precedence over anything else, you’ll want to step up to the plate and hit it out of the ballpark every single time a challenge arises. Meaning, you’ll want to do everything perfectly. It’s human nature. Molding, shaping and guiding another human being through life (read: fatherhood) is a task where you get one chance, and one chance only. And, like they say at Mission Control, “failure is not an option.”

In the long run, this is true. Failure is not an option. You cannot, and must not, fail. But let me tell you a little something while I have your ear - along the way you will fail. So get used to it.

Think back to your own childhood. Things weren’t always rainbows and lollipops, we’re they? I’m sure dear ol’ dad had his share of missteps, unbeknownst to you of course. But you got through it relatively unharmed (except for that spasmodic facial tic of yours, but we won’t mention that).

Let’s look at it through another facet of the prism. You know how comedians are always joking about parents and how these hapless moms and dads will inevitably screw up their kids somehow because of their parenting skills, or lack thereof?

Well, they’re right.

Sort of. At some point you’ll make the wrong call on a certain decision and your son or daughter will have to deal with the consequences. And it’s going to hurt you more than a well-placed kick in the crotch.

But here’s a little salve to put on that gaping wound called remorse: I recently read that a quote-unquote perfect childhood can actually be a detriment to children because it doesn’t prepare them for real life. As we all know, the real world is a highly competitive jungle, and when these “sheltered” kids leave the nest they get a nasty jolt of reality that’s almost too much for them to handle.

So you see, by screwing things up every now and then you’re actually doing your kids a favor!

Bottom line is you’re human, not perfect. You never were perfect, you never will be perfect, even when it comes to child rearing. And the sooner you realize this the better off you’ll be.

Now go out there and have the best Father’s Day ever, and bask in the glory of your imperfection.

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Don't: Fund your kids' college education at the expense of funding your own retirement.