There is at least one thing every father in the world has in common. We often are plagued with the thought, “You are such a terrible Dad.”
I just had a moment like that this past weekend. My fearless (and sometimes clueless) eight-year-old daughter was riding bikes at a friend’s house. She was having the thrill of a lifetime coasting down their long driveway, feet kicking up gravel all the way.
But as always with my courageous little girl, she wanted more. She decided to see if she could ride her bike down a much steeper part of the yard. In just a matter of moments, my little “Evil Knievel” left my field of view and headed toward the large wooded area at the bottom of her “Mountain of Doom”. My daughter was unable to stop her little friend’s borrowed bike and began bouncing and tumbling nearly 100 feet into the woods’ edge. I instantly heard her screams. It was a steep hill, she could have really been hurt bad.
As I ran into the woods, the ground covered in poison ivy and stacked with mature trees, I had many thoughts racing through my head…and every one ended with: “You are such a terrible Dad.”
As I came to her rescue (thank God), she was scratched and bruised, but okay. After the emergency bath to wash off the poison ivy, the house was in a total frenzy. On top of all that, we had even more drama as my wife and I had to go trekking back into the woods to hunt for my daughter’s eyeglasses that had fallen off. Again, the accusing thought came: “You are such a terrible Dad.”
To quote from Author and Speaker Peter Chin,
“What I took away from that season is this: Far too often, men are wrongly fixated on the fact that we aren’t the fathers we want to be, which very well may be the truth. And because we lack those inborn skills and characteristics, we despair and resign ourselves to mediocrity, or worse. However, the truth is that good fathers are not born, but made as they are forged and refined through difficult circumstances.”
Afterward, glasses in hand, tempers cooled, and nerves beginning to ease, we were beginning to move on and I had that moment to retreat into myself and dwell on my failures OR…do something new. I chose the latter. I realized that my daughter may also be feeling a lot of embarrassment and disappointment so I made a point to get everyone’s attention. In front of everyone, I told my danger-loving daughter how thankful I was that she was okay and how much I loved her courageous heart. I told her I never wanted her to lose that adventurous spirit- it is something the world needs, something that will serve her well as an adult. I explained we just need to add wisdom to the adventure and that we all need to learn how to make wiser choices. We have to learn the difference between careless and carefree. And while her bruises were still sore, our thoughts of failure had lost their sting.
She looked up at me, and I saw it in her eyes: I am a pretty good dad after all.
So, to all you dads out there, Happy Father’s Day.
You deserve it- skinned knees and all.
For more about feeling like a “Bad Dad” read Confessions of a Bad Dad
Peter Chin – Author and Speaker | @peterwchin