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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Be the man you wish your son to become

When my son was born, I suddenly realized that I had created (with some help from my wife) a small human who would be relying on me for everything in his life for the next 18 (+) years. I now had the power of life and death over another member of my species and had to some extent become his god. The responsibility that came with this revelation was stunning. What if I screwed it up!? Every day we see and meet grownups we fear will be the future versions of our kids. The idiot on the train who pushes the mother carrying a baby out of the way to grab a seat, the morons who honk their horns at my kid's (well marked) school bus EVERY morning when it stops to pick them up, not to mention the violent examples shown daily on the CNN.

I knew that my son would be molded by his environment and that his friends would have a big impact on his development as well but he would also be looking up to me from the moment he opened his eyes at the hospital and I felt that I needed to live up to the challenge. I was reminded of a quote by Jack Nicholson in the movie As Good As It Gets , "You make me want to be a better man." In the movie he was saying this to Helen Hunt but it described my feelings towards my new son perfectly.

Thinking back to the images and memories I had of growing up with my own father, I realized how much I had picked up from him.  Some of which you can read about here in the article I wrote for Father's Day.

I decided to make some changes. I became more disciplined about work, I did not want my son to grow up thinking that his Dad was lazy. Especially since I work at home often and he could see me at my desk almost every day.  For example, I stopped playing solitaire on the computer when I should be working. I wanted him to see that when I was supposed to be working, I was actually doing what needed to be done and hopefully he would imitate that attitude.

I started exercising more. I stopped smoking cigars (for the most part) because I did not want to be hypocritical about saying that smoking is bad for you and then do it myself. Granted, my upcoming midlife crisis may have contributed to this one a bit but losing weight and being healthy was a habit I wanted my son to adopt. The added benefit has been that I can keep up with him and still win (for now) when we wrestle.

I had always been an optimistic guy but I make the point of being positive more often and rarely criticising  people. There are a lot of difficult people in the world and nobody is exempt from dealing with them (I may very well be one of them!) but if my son lets himself get caught up in all the drama he will not only be frustrated and unhappy but will also be less productive.

This idea began 14 years ago (today) and I realize every day that it is an ongoing project. Even now at 44 I still catch myself observing how my own father handles things (life, wife, kids...) and I  know it has an effect on me. Even if it takes my whole life, I will continue striving to be the man I hope my son will someday become.

Acknowledgement: My wife is an amazing mother and contributes as much (if not more) to the growth and development of our kids. While this article is mainly about me and my son I want to give her credit for everything she does for all of us everyday.
P.S. My totally amazing daughter will receive her own article at a future date. I have a similar feeling related to her with some gender based differences I will explain.

1 comment:

  1. You are a wonderful example. You teach kids
    to think for themselves... then stand by aghast when they do

    ReplyDelete