Everyone has a father. Only the lucky ones get to have dads. I have a huge appreciation for men who make parenting their highest priority and I hold a special place in my heart for men who step up and raise children that aren’t theirs biologically.
I think the best of us are giving what we didn’t receive. That’s bittersweet. It is liberating – even vindicating to become the dads we needed as children. Deep down, most of us still wish we had an older, wiser parent to lean on and learn from. Too many of us are just doing the opposite of how we were raised.
I can honestly say that I did the best I could in raising my two. I made a ton of mistakes. I taught them things by my example that I wish they hadn’t learned. I am blessed to have two amazing adults as children. My kids are 30 and 31 and as corny as it sounds, I have absolutely no idea where those years went.
The two most important things I will do in my life, I did them as well as I could. Like the best of dads, I wish I could have done much more. I wish I’d had more of an idea what I was doing at the start. I was a dad at 21 and again at 22. I was terrified and ill equipped. I worked too hard to get out of poverty and I didn’t slow down until long after they were grown.
But we played endlessly. I showed up every day even though I had no idea what I was doing. I was so scared of failing them. It was a life changing moment when my therapist told me I was free to treat myself the way I treated my children. I stared at her blankly and heard myself say, “But they matter!”
There I was with two precious responsibilities and I’d never been taught to value myself.
I know this with complete conviction: The world needs more good dads. I seek to be a role model to other dads. My hope is that they learn from both my mistakes and my victories.
I have a lot of kids today. They’re chosen family and I love them all. They’re like me – beautiful but feeling broken. Full of potential and afraid of screwing everything up. Learning how to feel worthy of love and how to receive it safely is key to our transformation. That’s a tall order. We need to step up as men.
The world needs more men like Rob Kenney. He’s my hero. His Youtube channel, “Dad how do I?” is pragmatic and inspiring. His message is beautiful and powerful in its simplicity. “I love you. I’m proud of you. God bless you.”
How much of the emptiness in our hearts would be filled by hearing those words?
We’re a little more than halfway through Pride Month. A couple weeks ago I posted a meme that says, “For anyone who has to deal with unsupportive family: Congratulations. I’m your family now.” I do not say that lightly. If you feel alone in the world, please know that I can relate and to the best of my ability, I am here for you: