Friday, 18 December 2009

The love for your children

Its hard being a dad. No I correct that; its hard being a GOOD dad. This doesn't mean that if you don't try your best you're going to be a bad father as its a little harder to explain than with statements like those.

Take me as an example - and lets be honest about it, this is really all about me! I have Chris who is 19yrs and Ben who is 12yrs. I know I made many mistakes as a father with Chris as he grew up and I deeply deeply regret that I cannot undo those wrongs or make up for them. Despite all of this I love him (and Ben) so much that I would sacrifice my life for them if it was necessary and I hope they love me to a similar - although not quite as reckless self sacrificial - degree.

I got angry with Chris a few times when he was young and I smacked his bottom with my hand. I made him cry, and even though I felt very very bad about it, at the time I felt the reason was justified. I rarely smacked his bottom - maybe only 4 or 5 times in over a dozen years. When I was brought up my mother used to put me over her knee and smack me repeatedly with a wooden spatula when I was naughty. That hurt like hell, but I think the hurt I did to Chris was more emotional than physical. He loved me so much that we would both be crying as we cuddled after it all calmed down, saying sorry to each other and apologising. It used to break my heart to see him so upset but my wife made it clear that I was the one who was supposed to do this discipline stuff in the household with a "wait until your father gets home" kind of attitude.

And yet I have always felt that just beneath the surface hes afraid of me, even today...a bit like layers. The top layer is nonchalance. Just beneath this is fear/concern/anxiety, and then the third layer is love. I see the top layer on a daily basis - heck hes still a teenager, they're all like that. I seldom see the second layer and I hardly ever see the bottom layer.

The other night he was making a cup of tea for us and there was something in his mums cup he was trying to get out - some speck or other - and the continuous "chink chink chink" noise of the spoon was getting on my nerves so I went into the kitchen and said to leave it and I would sort it out. I picked up the mug and threw the contents down the sink and proceeded to make her another cup of tea. I lost my rag with him. I didn't get angry or anything, just told him to leave it and that Id sort it out. He was confused and quite obviously hurt but I was blind to this. I guess I get frustrated and something takes over. It's nothing like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining", its more of a need to sort it out without caring for the other persons feelings. Again it only seems to happen with Chris, but its a failing in me and not him.

My wife took Ben to bed shortly after and came downstairs to tell me Chris was in his bedroom crying. I knew right then that I had hurt his feelings. I realised that I had been an arse and that I had had no right to take out my frustration on him & I went upstairs and we cried together in each others arms. I told him I was a poor father and that I was being nasty for no reason and I was very very sorry. It was nice to hug him as we haven't done that for many years and it was good to let it out. It doesn't make me a good father in any way, but its nice to try to explain to him that I know I am not to him and hopefully help him understand that I try and will in future attempt to try harder.

The reason for his upset turned out to be because his friends had all moved away to go to university, but I think that our tea incident was the impetus for his upset. I really hope that he can make new friends and I am trying to think of something he can do to broaden his social activities. I appreciate his problem and realise its harder than just saying "go out more" but I really want to help him. I love him, even though I may not show it on a daily basis. That part is a man to man thing and men don't really show these emotions well with other men.

As for Ben, well Ben is Ben. He's learned by having an older brother to look up to and I have learned a lot from my parenting with Chris, although I am still learning.

So is there really any such thing as a "good dad"? I'm sure I'm not the only father in the world to lose his temper, to smack a bottom, and is to do such a thing being a bad dad? Is being a good dad something which encompasses more than this? Something which is the whole experience of knowing your children from birth to long after they leave home and unto your death? I don't know the answer, but I know that I want to be better. I also know that no matter how good a dad I am I will always think I could be better, and most of all I want my children to know that I love them with all of my heart until my very last breath on this earth.

1 comment:

  1. You know Chunder, you care enough to think you can do better. That to me says you're a great dad already.