I Could Be a Better Father

I could be a better father than I am now. That doesn’t mean that I am not good because I am. My kids will tell you that I am the best father in the world and more importantly they’ll mean it.

But that doesn’t mean that I am not aware of my shortcomings or that I haven’t any interest in becoming better.  I suppose that I could provide you with a list of things that I want to work on. If this were a real review I might very well do that. But if I did that I would want to include some metrics that I could measure myself against because how else do you know if you are improving.

Except I don’t need metrics. I am competing with myself and with the image I have of my father and grandfathers. They set the standard that I am trying to follow.

Lately the kids and I seem to be listening to Paradise a lot, both this version and the one that the Piano Guys did. We listen to all sort of other music too. The dark haired beauty is trying hard to teach me how to shuffle. Don’t tell her but I am intentionally not learning how to do it.

That is because she is so damn cute I don’t want her to stop teaching me. I am having all sorts of fun.

Science Camp

My son left today for a three day school trip. He is off in the mountains participating in a science camp that I wish I could go to. That is not because I am nervous about him being away from home because I trust the school. Nope, I wanted to go because the stuff they are doing there sounds really interesting to me.

Still I wonder what he is doing and hope he is having a good time. Tonight at the basketball game a couple of the dads with younger children asked me if it was hard to let him go. I told them the same thing I wrote here, I trust the school and the staff that is chaperoning the trip.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think it is a reasonable question. We place an enormous amount of faith and trust in the schools our children attend. Sometimes that trust is betrayed in truly terrible and horrific ways. I believe that those are the exceptions and not the rule. We can’t stick our children inside a bubble and keep them safe from everything.

Part of the job is making sure they learn how to become productive members of society. This kind of trip helps make that happen. Even though he is being looked after he still has a fair amount of responsibility and that is part of the growth opportunity I see here.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

My friend Sandi has a post she calls 21 Quotes To Crush Your Someday Thinking. I like it. My friend Janet has run similar posts to. I like them as well. These are posts that talk about taking action and not waiting for your dreams to magically come true. These are posts that offer inspiration.

I think about them because I agree with the principle of living your dreams and not dreaming your life. What I struggle with is how to make that happen for me without doing it at the expense of my children.

That is because when you dream of being a writer you have to accept that there will be a time where you won’t earn much. I don’t mind working hard to make my dreams into something more. I don’t mind chasing after them. I am having so much fun writing my story that I would do it regardless of my desire to publish it.

Most of the time I have just as much fun blogging. I may have told Bill that I am not sure if I have more words to share but I tend to think that I will find them. If I have trouble I’ll go visit John or Stan. They always give me food for thought. And if that doesn’t work I can always watch Clint Eastwood talk about Halftime again.

And if for some reason that doesn’t work I can always dig through Stupid Blog Tricks and find something there.

In the interim I am still working on becoming a better father and a better writer. I am still working on building a bigger platform because that is supposed to help convince an agent to represent me. It is why I ask you to be part of my community. Good things happen for those who are willing to work hard. Good things happen for those who are brave enough to dare to try new things.

I want those good things and I am going to get them.

This post is part of the Just Write project. It is all about free writing and not having to worry about structure. Some of you would benefit from writing like this. It is worth checking out.

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27 Comments

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  4. Jack February 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Hi John,

    That balance is elusive but exceptionally important.

  5. Stan Faryna February 8, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I’m a lousy dad. Maybe, it’s the circumstances. Maybe, I haven’t figured out how to work a bad situation for me into something better for my son.

    I do know that I come here and your thoughts, questions, and stories about beig a great dad inspire me to keep the faith: that I’ll have my opportunity to be a great dad. Someday. That could be five or ten years down the road. But like I said, you inspire me to work towards it. It’s a little like trying to get to Paradise.

    Thank you, Jack.

    • Jack February 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Stan,

      I don’t know all of the details of your situation but when you are separated/divorced it makes it challenging.

      I have friends who try very hard to be good fathers but their relationships with the mother is so acrimonious they get very little time with their kids.

  6. Jade February 8, 2012 at 2:02 am

    It’s brave of you to go for your dreams. Even braver to navigate a balance with family in tow. As a writer myself, blogging to broaden my platform, I feel you. Best of luck to you in your endeavors!

    • Jack February 8, 2012 at 8:42 am

      Hi Jade,

      Welcome to the blog. Life would be a lot less interesting and far more dull if we didn’t chase our dreams.

      It may be a bit more challenging with children, but not impossible.

  7. Real Dad February 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I have 4 kids and besides kids choking, my biggest fear is that I could always be a better father. I find myself second guessing every decision and word at times. We can only do out best at that moment and hope the kids always know it comes out of love by reminding them how much they are loved.

  8. Bill Dorman February 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Plus, those mean moms might be chaperoning the field trip and you would have to deal with all of that…

    I’m willing to bet you are a pretty good dad; I’ve been a knucklehead on some things, but the one thing I feel I got right was being an ‘involved’ dad with my kids. It made a difference in how they turned out I believe.

    This has been a crazy offline 2 weeks, but a good crazy.

    I’ll need to check out the Just Write Project; sounds interesting.

    • Jack February 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Hey Bill,

      The mean moms really don’t like it when I am around because I am the obnoxious guy who says whatever is on my mind.

      Don’t care if it is funny or if it makes sense. I am a happy wing nut.

      I am willing to say that I am a good dad but I want to be better. Some of that is for the kids and some is because I know I am not hitting the mark I want to hit.

      You might like The Just Write project. Free writing without structure is kind of fun.

  9. Hajra February 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

    The just write thing sure is going amazing. I ain’t a parent but I feel the day you try to become a better parent is the day you are the best! 🙂

  10. Sandi Amorim February 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I’m not a parent Jack, but I do understand the challenge you describe so well. My sister and I have had many talks about this as she works through her own struggle.

    I remind her that it’s more inspiring for her kids to see their mom taking care of herself (and that includes taking steps towards her own dreams even if they’re just baby steps) than seeing a mom who’s doing work that drains her, resigned about life.

    I remember while in a course a few years ago I asked my parents what their dreams were only to be stunned by their responses. It left me feeling a bit sad that they thought those dreams were so impossible.

    Great, thought-provoking piece. I appreciate this conversation.

    • Jack February 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Sandi,

      It is an interesting question. Many years ago Ayelet Waldman wrote an essay about how in love she was with her husband and how her children interfered with her sex life.

      I remember blogging about it. That post got a ridiculous number of comments.

      I have thought about that and talked about it many times. What lines do you draw and what do you do for your children.

      I have very few regrets in life but those I do are big. Some of them are things that I can “fix” and some are just lost opportunities.

      So when I look at them I say what would it take to make them happen now. Some of them would require immense change and I don’t know what that would mean for the kids.

      Is it fair for me to uproot their lives and turn them upside down. It could end up making things better.

      A happier father isn’t a bad thing. I am not suggesting that I am miserable, but there are things that would make me smile more.

      But what if it didn’t work or if it took a long time. What price do they have to pay for me.

      I knew what I was doing when I brought them into the world, but that doesn’t mean that I have to subjugate everything for them either.

  11. Danny Brown February 7, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Awesome thoughts, sir. As a dad of two, I ferl where you’re coming from. All we can do is try our best and not screw up too much. Something tells me you’re leading the way on this front.

    Cheers!

    • Jack February 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Hi Danny,

      We sometimes kid around about doing our best to not screw up or screw the kids up too badly.

      Like you said we do our best and watch, wait and learn.

  12. Gina February 7, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I’ll say it again, I love the “living your dreams, not dreaming your life”. Our kids need to see this in action so they are brave enough to do the same. You teach them to try, fail/succeed, modify and try again.

    My kids’ opinion of me does matter. When they think of me I want them thinking supportive yet firm, always available, sometimes silly and loving no matter what. What I want them to take into the world, and always have, is empathy and compassion for others. We’ve worked on that since they were toddlers.

    My favorite posts of yours are the ones about you and your kids (also your romantic one, go figure).

    • Jack February 7, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Hi Gina,

      Living my dreams is something that I definitely believe in and am active about.

      The hard part for me is trying to find the balance for all of the different things I dream about.

      I think your goals for your kids are great and something I want for mine as well.

      Thank you for the feedback. There are a ton of posts here about the kids and a chunk of the others.

      I suppose that some people might say that the story I am working on is romantic in nature too.

      You can find that at:

      http://welovejack.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/jacks-story-feb-4-first-update/

  13. Joe February 7, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Jack, like you I know I’m a good father, but know also that I can be better. I don’t think that ever stops. You make the attempt to keep improving till it’s no longer possible. The segue into Sandi’s post is important here. A rock solid piece of advice to pass on to the kids is to not wait for “someday”. Live now, do things that matter to you, find a way to get paid for them if possible. If not, do it for free in your spare time.

    I’m also comparing my skills as a dad to my own father as well as my grandfather. Tough to measure up in some areas, but other areas are all mine!

    • Jack February 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Hi Joe,

      I know from reading you blog and our interaction that our feelings about these things are similar.

      There is a mix of living our life and reaching for our goals balanced against trying to help the children achieve theirs.

      It reminds me of an ongoing discussion with some of the boys about whether we should push the kids to go into certain professions or let them find their own.

      I say let them find their own but that is a topic for a different day.

  14. Bruce Sallan February 7, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Always challenging ourselves to be a better parent is just plain smart. Being a dad (or mom) is not something you learn in a manual and EVERY kid is different so EVERY tip is just that – a tip. It may not work for you and your kid(s)!

    • Jack February 7, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Hi Bruce,

      You are so very right- there are no manuals that you can rely upon. All that stuff provides a general guideline and after that it is you and them.

      I don’t mind pushing myself to do better, helps to keep things interesting.

  15. Betsy Cross February 7, 2012 at 5:38 am

    You ARE a hard worker and excellent writer! May all of YOUR dreams come true!

    • Jack February 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Hi Betsy,

      Thank you for the kind words. Sometimes I like to look in the dark corners and see what is lurking.

      Yep, I do work hard but I ask myself the same question I pose to my children- am I working smart?

      Dreams are things that we can make into reality. I wish you the same.

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