Are You a Successful Dad?
You may have noticed that I’ve been on hiatus from writing for a while (at least I hope you have). It has been a rough stretch for me and my family. Along with the usual busyness of life, there have been some things going on that have drained my motivation to write. The good thing is that periods of pain and struggle are usually closely followed by periods of growth. We rejoice in our sufferings, right? I’m glad to be back writing. Thanks for reading.
How do you measure success in life? Status, popularity, a big office, a new car, healthy relationships? Maybe a better question is who determines what measure you use? Have you defined success for yourself, or has someone else defined it for you?
I read a great article about success recently at ChopperPapa. Papa talks about some of the “successful” people in sports and entertainment. People like Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen. He gives the topic of success in life great coverage, but it got me thinking about success in fatherhood. I am pretty comfortable saying Tiger and Charlie are not successful dads, but what about Earl Woods and Martin Sheen? Did they have anything to do with their sons’ “success”?
Why is it when we hear about people who do great (or horrible) things, we don’t give any credit (blame) to their dads? I know that grown up people have responsibility for their own actions. Some people with great dads have gone on to screw their lives up. Others have gone on to become great despite their dad. But the fact remains that fathers have a profound influence on their children and the adults they become. A dad is responsible for building a foundation in the first quarter of a life that the adult will build on the last three quarters.
So how does a dad measure success? On one hand, the job will never really be done, so I suppose I’ll never really be able to say whether I have achieved ultimate success. On the other hand, there are a lot of opportunities for small success along the way. Thinking about how you define success as a dad will help you shape your priorities, set your goals and make course corrections over time. I’ve had a couple small successes recently that I’m not too humble to write about here.
The first is my second son’s basketball coach complementing him on his character, leadership and his general attitude. This made the season for me. I don’t care as much about how many rebounds he got or how many games they won. My goal is not to launch a star basketball player into adulthood. It is to help him build his character, become a leader (since that is one of his gifts) and for him to maintain a healthy, positive attitude.
My second recent success was when my oldest son had to get two references for a summer volunteer position he was applying for. Both reference letters he got were great, but one of them in particular brought tears to my eyes. It was from a friend who I have significant respect and admiration for. She wrote glowing praise with specific examples of why he would be an ideal volunteer and was uniquely suited for the role.
These small successes provided encouragement for us that we’re doing some things right. They were both aligned with my ultimate definition of success as a dad: to launch my children into adulthood with a strong foundation of faith and character and to help them discover and cultivate their unique purpose and gifts so they can contribute great things to the world and find joy in doing so.
So what’s your definition?