As a parent, I often think about the responsibility I have to be a Dad. I think parenting is one of those things that often feels like a battle between the mindset of “having to do” certain things versus “getting to” do those same things.
I recently chatted with my ‘little’ brother about what it means to be a Dad. I shared some of the up’s and down’s I’ve experienced as a Dad, before leaving him with this:
“Being a Dad is the manliest thing you can do, because you’re showing another human being what it means to be a person. You’re teaching them how to live.”
Recently, I sat down and tried to distill parenting down to its most important aspect. What is the one thing I think matters most as a parent? After some thought, I had my answer.
Being a parent means teaching your children how to live.
That little nugget of truth can be broken out into a lot of different chapters. For example, one teaches their children how to live through example.
Monkey see – monkey do. Kids will follow the example you set for them, as well as what you allow them to get away with…
There’s a part of me now that consciously thinks about the example I’m setting for Atlas, even when he’s not with me. Would I want my son to follow in the footsteps I’m leading? Am I doing a good job of living as a human being? Would I be happy if Atlas made the same choices?
Those are tough questions to answer.
There are a lot of things about my life that I hope Atlas has the opportunity to experience as he grows older. For example, I hope that he has the chance to see the world at a young age and expand his horizons about others as a result of connecting with them in a personal way.
I hope Atlas thinks for himself and isn’t afraid to buck the mold of what others around him are doing. I hope he doesn’t follow trends, but sets them for himself to live and embody.
I hope Atlas never has to experience what it’s like to raise a child in a broken home. I hope he finds somebody that loves him unconditionally and is willing to show up even on the hard days. I hope he never hears verbal abuse or is on the receiving end of hands intent on harm. I hope he is loved forever by somebody other than his family.
I have a lot of hopes for Atlas, but have to remember that my hopes need to be separated from the outcomes that he chooses in life. Regardless of what he wants or hopes for his life, I have to be happy that he’s making his own choice, and make peace with the outcome.