Raising the Kids You Deserve


This Fathers Day was a busy day. The best parts involved me cooking breakfast and dinner for the family and the hardest was a visit to see my dad (who has dementia, extremely damaged memory, and is living in an assisted living home). I found myself in the middle ground of being both a son and a father and reflecting at the end of the day how my father raised me as a son and how I adapt and pass that along to my own children.

My younger son started the day by ambushing me while I was getting ready to make pancakes. He jumped out from behind the refrigerator door and gave me a huge hug. He pretty much kept hugging me, high-fiving me, and cracking jokes all day. While that’s typical of him, I think he went out of the way. Considering he’s thirteen, I’ll take the hugs as long as I can get them. He was also extremely mature on the visit to my dad. On the drive over, I asked him about how he remembers his grandfather. I was extremely grateful that my son does recall the man he used to know and grasps what’s happened to him. I really believe the hugs were there not just to tell me how much he loves me, but because I needed him to get me through the visit.

My older son had to go to his job during this. On Saturday, he went hunting for a Father’s Day gift for me and made no secret about it. Before he went to work on Father’s Day, he gleefully told me that he bought something Barbie-related. Before he walked out the door he made me keep guessing until I figured out that he shopped at American Girl. The first thing he did when he got home was go up to his room and bring down the gift bag which looked like this:

Not your average Fathers Day gift bag.
Not your average Fathers Day gift bag.

There were certainly dolls inside but they were Marvel bobbleheads for my desk. My boys are geeks the same way I am and can also play a very thought out joke when they set their minds to it. I loved that my son was able to put both aspects together and even have the rest of the family in on it. It really made me feel like they know me and that they care. That’s the most important thing about a day like Fathers Day.

Guardians of the Gifts
But an awesome present!

The love and fun are great and I did similar things with my family when I was a teenager. Laughter and life lessons are a part of growing up together. In the course of that, we do really grow up and the lessons we learn don’t just determine who we are. They are also measures of how well our parents did raising us. That’s especially true when I see my father and know that the person he needs me to be is the person he raised even though he doesn’t realize it. These days I feel that I need to go beyond that upbringing and it’s influencing how I raise my own kids. I don’t teach the same lessons in the same way because my own experiences are different than my dad’s. What I’m hoping for is that my father is getting the children he deserves and that I get the ones I hope I deserve as well.

Fathers Day
The people who raised me.


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