Dads, today is a day that we celebrate you. We celebrate you for your strength, leadership and the way that you love your kids so well. Many of you will be taken out to lunch, given hand-made cards by your kids and perhaps a new tie, or permission to watch as many Sunday afternoon sports as you want. Trust me, you deserve it.
This type of attention might make some of you uncomfortable. You may doubt that you are the type of father who deserves to be celebrated. You may on a daily basis worry that you are not the father you should be, or want to be.
Recent research found that 63% of fathers surveyed in the U.S. feel like they don’t spend as much time with their kids as they should, and only 39% of them feel like they are doing a “very good job” raising their kids.
It breaks my heart to see so many fathers feeling so inadequate.
Of course, this is not always the case, but I have a feeling that a lot of the fathers who feel like they are not good enough for their kids feel this way because they didn’t have a good father. Maybe their dad was absent or in and out of their lives. Maybe they were great during childhood but then started to disconnect when their children became teens.
Dads, no matter what type of father you had, don’t let that discourage you from your own fatherhood journey. For the very reason that you worry you’re not good enough as a parent, I know that you are because that means you care, and you are thinking about these things because you truly love your kids.
Dads, no matter what type of father you had, don’t let that discourage you from your own fatherhood journey.
So if you are struggling today on the day you are supposed to feel most celebrated, I want you to remember a few things:
You can’t rewrite your childhood, but you can take charge of your future.
Dads are meant to be heroes to their children—and you start off with that status from day one. This is what they naturally believe you are, and all kids desire to have a relationship with their hero dads. So, as they say in football, you have the lead, the game is now yours to lose or to win.
Maybe it feels like you were set up for failure – but you weren’t. I truly believe that every dad has a hero inside of him. You cannot control your past, but you have all the say in how you parent your kids and how you are a husband to your wife.
I truly believe that every dad has a hero inside of him. You cannot control your past, but you have all the say in how you parent your kids and how you are a husband to your wife.
Just because you had bad experiences, doesn’t mean you will repeat them.
Sure, we all inherit bad behaviors from our parents. If your father was a yeller, chances are that under stress, you yell too. But occasionally messing up or not having the best and most sensitive reaction to your child does not mean you are a terrible father, and it does not mean you are destined to be a terrible father in the future.
All parents—moms and dads, new and old—make mistakes. You may need to apologize and tell yourself, or your child, that you will try harder next time, but you do not need to spiral into despair, thinking this is who you are. You are not your mistakes.
Don’t be afraid to put your love on the line.
Parenting is vulnerable. It often means giving your child affection that they simply will not return for one reason or another. And if you had a father who didn’t show you affection by hugging you or saying I love you, you may be terrified to try this with your own children. What will happen? How does it work?
Don’t be afraid. If I’ve learned anything from listening to boys talk about their dads in my pediatrician office, it’s that all kids want to be hugged by their fathers and told that they are loved by him. It might feel awkward at first, but it will be tremendously rewarding later.
All kids want to be hugged by their fathers and told that they are loved by him.
Dads, you deserve to be loved and celebrated today. You are creating a new legacy for your children. Even if this wasn’t the case with your own father, to them, you will forever be known as their hero.
Happy Father’s Day.