Sunday, June 21, 2009
Lessons Learned From My Dad
(Image poached from here)
Around here, every weekend is Father's Day. I don't get ties, or coffee mugs, license plates, tee shirts or other bric-a-brac emblazoned with "WORLD'S GREATEST DAD" on them, no do I desire or require them. My kids tell me I'm the best dad with out prompting, and I'd just as soon that be kept as our little secret. No, I don't get a lot of material things from my guys, and that's okay, because I get a lot more from them-happiness. Spending time with my kids gets better and better as they get older because we spent so much time together when they were younger.
I learned a lot about life from my own Dad. My demand for absolute truth & honesty stems from his insistence on it, not only from me, but from his politicians, and media representatives. A lot of my more tin foil hatted predilections stem from his indulgences in all things conspiratorial. He feared everything, from feminism to the Beatles, were all part of a commie plot to undermine the youth of America. But besides the positive lessons, even some of the more negative things influenced me as well, in a good way.
As an instance, my Dad was prone to spanking, not just slight taps on my fanny but more along the lines of oh-my-god-he's-taking-off-his-belt-get-the-fuck-out-of-here type of spanking. These stopped shortly before my mother died, and were infrequent enough, but from it I learned not to spank my children. Reason works well, and if introduced at an early enough age, sticks a whole lot better than beatings.
Growing up, when choosing a career path, it seemed no matter choice I made, instead of encouragement, I was always told "Yeah, but that's a hard field to break into". He often encouraged me to "join the service", although, years later, he expressed relief that I never did, as I would have never turned out the way I have if I had taken that advice. So from that, I have learned to encourage my children to be the best at what they choose. And I think I have been rewarded with two wonderfully talented children.
My Father was also staunchly reactionary. If we were to discuss politics, you had better have something to back up any argument you may feel compelled to present. So from that, I learned it is better to be right than it is to follow a political leaning.
My dad grew up as an only child raised by alcoholic parents, and could never understand why all his children couldn't get along. He wasn't aware of sibling abuse, so many times I felt near torture at the hands of an older brother who almost seemed to delight in kicking my ass because he decided I needed it. From that I learned to be fair with my own children, to protect the weaker one from the whims of the stronger one.
My dad is no longer with us, and I miss him a lot, especially thinking how he would be prouder of my kids than I am of them myself. But a lot of the good that was in him now lives on in me, and will be carried on by my children as well. And for that Dad, thank you.