In praise of good fathers

by Michael Vernon
Parenting is a huge endeavour and we should celebrate those doing their best

I am not a father. I am in awe of my brothers, friends and peers who are.
I am not a father, in part because my fear of failing the children in my care is greater than the sense that I will do okay.

My awe for fathers is because I see that this fear is not particular to me and that it doesn’t go away. I witness fathers I know as they struggle daily with how to be a good father, how to set a good example, how to not screw up their kids.

They persevere. These dads keep trying their best—learning new games to play, new ways to listen, new ways to teach. Whenever they feel they may be floundering, these dads find new ways to nurture, connect with and encourage their offspring.

The good dads I know appreciate the simple play and complex imaginations of their young children. They don’t hurry their kid along or get bored easily. They reconnect with their inner child and dive deep into another round of hide-and-seek, or get lost in the pleasures of woodland exploration and throwing stones into the river.

The good dads I know are full partners. They view parenthood as a shared endeavour and embrace the mundane and dirtiest of tasks along with the extraordinary and uplifting. They make sure to carve out time for themselves, time for each other and ensure their partner has time also.

The good dads I know strive to stay healthy. They are determined to be a part of their child’s life for as long as possible, while also showcasing the value of sport, recreation and good food.

The good dads I know follow their passion. As dedicated as they are to their kids, and as devoted as they are to their partners, these dads have not lost sight of their own motivation and the activities that excite them.

The good dads I know recognize when their life is unbalanced. They are aware when they are giving too much of their energy to work and volunteer commitments, and hustle to restore the balance of home and career.

The good dads I know are mindful of their anger. That doesn’t mean they never raise their voices, speak sharply or use unkind words. It means they are aware of the impact this has on their children and work hard to change their behaviour, to learn healthier ways to communicate, to address the deeper frustrations that lie at the root of their anger.

The good dads I know are aware of their demons and wrestle them to the ground every day, every week. They don’t bury them or pretend they don’t exist. They fight to overcome their challenges, to heal themselves, to create a better life for their sons and daughters.

Some good dads I know are single parents. Some good dads I know are stepfathers.

Of the good dads I know, not a single one embodies each of these qualities, but a lot embody most of them.

I am in awe of the fathers I know because each one is awesome.

Take a moment to celebrate the good fathers around you. Be open in your admiration. Let them know you appreciate the ways they nurture their children, the ways in which they inspire you.

The best way to encourage more good fathers is to celebrate the ones we have.

Michael Vernon is a flawed human being on a journey toward becoming a better man. He is on the board of White Ribbon Yukon and wishes we did more to celebrate the good dads in our lives.

Riding Alone Together for Dad

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