What they don’t tell you about being a dad
(whoever “they” are)
is that as your kids become young adults,
young men and women,
you are faced with a choice,
a choice to be this idealized version of “Dad”
or to let them in, to who you are.
Really that choice is always there but it’s especially hard as they get older.
They have more power to be disappointed in you.
But what I’ve learned so far
is you don’t stop being Dad, “superman”, their “hero”, their “knight in shining armor” any more then they stop being your “princess”, your “boy” or your “baby” when they get older.
You just become a different type of hero, you start to play a different role.
They may not look “up” to you in the same way but they can look “in” to you, if you let them.
Instead of the the final word, you become an advisor.
You point them to the truth and let them discover what they need to for themselves, on their own but available.
As Dad or Mom, you still go first, initiate, the more real you are or become, you lead the way and show them how to be real too.
Like the Velveteen Rabbit taught us, to be real is to be loved.
I’m learning how to replace the need to be respected with the connection of being known and trusted by speaking deeper harder truths to my kids,
things that, if I had heard and learned earlier, I wouldn’t have spent so much time trying to figure out on my own.
Things that don’t have to do with what’s on the outside, things of our hearts and who we are.
It’s not that they don’t need my advice but letting them in on the stories and process of how I came to came to that advice – explaining the Why and How I learned the advice I’m sharing, not just telling them What to do – helps them become the whole-hearted and resilient people I hope they’ll become.
As a parent, and especially for dads, the lie is that if you are weak and vulnerable, they will be anxious,
lose their sense of security,
their sense of being protected,
that you always have to be strong for them.
Never let them see you sweat,
never let them see you cry
The truth is, we show them the truth of how real life works
when we are vulnerable and we show them something more than
and being “OK”.
We teach them about faith.
We teach them about relying on God, on God’s grace and love.
We teach them to rely on others, on community and good friends, not our own strength and performance.
And we teach them to be connected in their humanity and imperfection
by connecting with them in this way.
Vulnerability is risking them thinking less of me
to give me a chance at really connecting with them.
I’m giving up being strong for the kids for being vulnerable with and being brave with them.