We humans are an interesting breed. We are social beings that thrive when we belong to a strong society, but we constantly need to differentiate ourselves from that society. We need to find what makes us special, what makes us stand apart and makes us uniquely valuable to our society. This of course is true when we are successful as human beings, which in turns comes back to the family and the role we were taught and allowed to play there. The family is smallest unit of our societal structure and this is where today's thought begins.
Every family is different, and as the years go by, the differences between families continue to grow. One family structure is not necessarily better than the other but there are definitely families that do better than others. This foundation that the family will lay out will greatly influence the people that will emerge from that family. So while every member has their role I want to take a closer look at the role of the father.
Research shows what our instinct tends to tell us. Nothing is worse for a child than the absence of a mother but what our instinct doesn't necessarily point to, is that nothing influences a child's success more than the presence of a good father.
If we work backwards it isn't hard to see why. A mother tends to nurture a child, she makes sure their needs are met, she makes sure they feel wanted, they feel loved. While most mothers understand the need to correct unwanted behaviors it is common for them to show mercy. To let things, slide. They know the world is a harsh place, they know that life kicks you even when you're down and so when they can, they shelter their little ones from all of that. They will take whatever burden comes their way so that their child doesn't have to feel the disappointment, the pressure the angst or whatever negative emotion might have been thrown at them.
This is in no way a criticism; this is a natural instinct to protect. While fathers too have a strong instinct to protect their children it tends to manifest itself differently.
It seems to be easier for a father to distance themselves from that small helpless being and think of what that child needs in his arsenal in order to become a strong and capable individual in their society. Someone that will be able to help themselves and carry others. An individual that will in turn help raise other strong individuals.
A father will usually expose the kids to the outside, becoming the first guide to the world that awaits. They have an easier time putting their kids in front of difficult even somewhat dangerous and adventurous situations while they look on from a distance. They too know that life will kick you even when you are down and what they want more than anything, is to know that their child will be able to get back up even if mom and dad are not there.
In essence I believe that the father's role in the family is not to teach what rights are, it is to teach what responsibilities are. Life derives its true meaning from responsibility. Guiding their children through the difficult moments in life whether it be getting down from climbing a little too high on that structure in the park without a helping hand or dealing with rejection later on is where good dads shine. Their presence in those moments gives children the confidence to know that they can do things on their own and that it is safe to take risks because they have backup. Eventually they won't need the backup and they can move on to greater things. This is the base of a competent, confident and responsible individual.
In my estimation, the only way to produce a strong and ethical society is to start with one strong, ethical individual, and hope he will not fail. Don't tell your kids that they can change the world, show them how to become a strong individual that will impact the world. You can impact the world when you know what your responsibilities are, not when you are constantly demanding for your rights. Show them how to add to this society and never become a burden to it. Change yourself before you try to change the world.
Jim Rohn says it well when he says 'Don't think in terms of I'll take care of you and you take care of me, think in terms of I'll take care of me for you, if you please take care of you for me'. But Jim says more, and it just doesn't seem fair for me not to share so here is some more wisdom for you to share with your kids. 'Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better! Don't wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don't wish for less challenges wish for more wisdom.'
So, dads, be there, be your kids’ super hero and let them know when they need to push harder to be better and when they have done a great job. Honor this great responsibility you have in your family and thus in society as a whole. I'll leave you with this great quote from an unknown monk.
“ When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”