What does being a father mean to me? I have spent my life as a professional soldier in the United States Military and continue to serve my country in other capacities since leaving, and for me, all my military accomplishments, all the honor and the glory I have seen in battle, in my 2 years deployed to Iraq, all my efforts. They all pale in comparison to being a good father. I strongly believe that even alone as a single male I am capable of raising my children to be healthy and to understand what a healthy relationship entails.
I strive to set goals for us as individuals but also as a family unit, goals like our fishing trips, the 5k we ran as a family team, visiting their great-grandfather (my grandpa), I set these goals and help accomplish them so that in time my children will have lasting memories of what a good and healthy childhood is. In my time with them I push them farther than they realize they can accomplish, I do this by listing to NPR in the mornings, explaining to them what is going on in the world news and then asking them questions. I am often astounded when they ask me more questions back. They are INTERESTED when I give them data, when I give them problems to solve and when I create challenges for them to complete. They are amazed when they create stuff, both in the kitchen and in the woods. They love it when I tell my stories and make fiction for them to be immersed in. Telling stories is such a rich and rewarding part of my days with my children, both for them and for me.
Not everything they do is without fault. I have to play the bad guy at times too. Allowing them to have consequences for their actions (both good and bad) and watch as they suffer through those consequences. For instance, I have found that my son (who is 12) has such a better time reflecting on his actions when I ask him to write me a paper on respecting his family, or on treating his sister better (or whatever it happened to be) because it causes him to reflect and actually write from his heart rather than give his cop-out answers like, “I wasn’t paying attention,” or “I didn’t mean to”. For my daughter letting her know (she is 8 ) that I am ashamed or hurt by her makes her realize just what she did was wrong. Both of my children are very mature and very different emotionally in how they act and how they react and I love both of them for their individuality.
I write this not to brag, not to boast, simply to show that anyone (even a broken and at times lonely and sad army vet) can be a good and wonderful father. You just need to pay attention and to show love.