How do I be a dad, when I grew up with such a poor example? My mother, God rest her soul, did all she could, loved so much sometimes I wonder if that’s what really killed her, yet a mother can’t teach a boy to be a man, much less a father. And my father? I don’t want to inflict that example on my sons; I love them too much.
So I draw from the behaviors of my male mentors who guided me through my troubled youth. I observe life as it interacts with my heart, and I learn what I can. I stay as steadfast as I can in practicing what I believe. When I fall, I get back up. I promise myself I’ll never give up, and sometimes that promise is the only hope I know.
I tell my children the truth–I’m transparent in my parenting–perhaps I tell them too much at times, forgetting they are children. But I love them above all else, and I feel my unconditional love perhaps makes up for some of my many shortcomings as a parent.
I embrace labor as a sound foundation for a flourishing life. I continually cultivate positivity and happiness within my mind, knowing how bleak life can appear when experienced through the living lens of apathy or stagnant sorrow. I fill myself with buoyant laughter to avoid being pulled under by swirling currents of black depression. I refuse to drown in that too-familiar sea.
I strive to always do the next right thing because I know I’m being ever studied by my pair of sons. Children will brook no hypocrisy, nor should they. When I teach them to question authority, I can hardly grow angry when they eventually question mine.
Mostly I just follow my gut. I follow the Tao as best I can and parent accordingly. Perhaps no example was the best example after all.