There often comes a time in one’s life where you learn something so profound, it changes your perspective. There are other times you hear something that changes your outlook. And then, there are times when you see and read something that you simply cannot ignore.
While getting ready for work the other day and listening to Good Morning America, I heard the story of a “Dad” (and I use this term loosely) who wrote a rather scathing letter to his adult children. I will spare you all the details and you can read it here .
But suffice it to say, if you don’t want to read it, he ends the letter by signing, “I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed, Dad. [sic].” You can draw through inference how the entire letter reads but even that would not do it justice. The basic themes: lack of maturity, lack of responsibility, failing to live up to the educational and financial expectations, etc, etc. – if this person’s children were adolescents, this letter would be tad amount to verbal and emotional child abuse
Regardless of how this letter has gained national media attention, a letter like this, written by a Dad, should serve as a wake up call for us real dads. I would submit that this is a perfect example of the old “Dad mold” that we need to destroy and put in its place a response that should be “Dad 2.0”.
Assuming his children are as worthless as he paints them to be, the failure of a Dad to raise his children with values is a failing on the Dad alone and not on the children. A real Dad recognizes this and strives every day to right the wrongs of the past.
This dad confirms to the “old” norm that suggest (as he notes in his letter) that he has provided financially for his children – and they should show their gratitude by being productive adults?!? We obviously don’t know every aspect of this family’s life but it’s not hard to tell that this dad believes that adequate finances are the only aspect needed for a healthy childhood – we should all know that this is flat out wrong.
To me, this Dad should re-read his letter and simply ask himself, “How did my children get to this point and what did I do to contribute to this situation?” And I suspect he’ll discover that although he feels he did everything he was supposed to, there is obviously a lot lacking in other areas that would account for his feelings toward his children.
We Dads need to look inside ourselves take responsibility for how we raise our children but more importantly, we need brutally honest job performance feedback. Moms, spouses, family members, this is where you come in and are so vital to the process of us becoming great dads. Look, we aren’t perfect – far from it – but we are wrong if we are not in a constant mode of self-improvement so that we don’t end up like this dad telling his children how much of a failure THEY are, instead of looking in the mirror.
There is a great temptation to aggrandize the things we do and consider them to be amazing works of parenthood but in creating this new Dad mold, “Dad 2.0”, we have to resist, as Chris Rock said, and I paraphrase, “Taking care of your kids is something you are supposed to do, what do you want, a cookie?!?” We need to do more than just taking care of our children, we need to constantly look at ways of being a better Dad!
Dad’s we are better than this, I know we are.