I’ve been a parent for nearly 18 years now. I still remember the feeling of holding my first daughter in my arms in the hospital and never wanting to let go. My body was thinner, my hair longer, my attitude more idealistic, but that feeling of wanting to protect her forever has never changed. She was born in August, and by the time Autumn and Winter came, one of my favorite things to do was carry her inside my warm jacket. Nothing could harm her that way. But eventually, she grew too big to carry. But in my heart, she’s still right there safe in my grasp.
In all these years, I’ve learned a great deal about sacrifice, patience, and fear. It’s been worth every single second. This Autumn she leaves our home to pursue her dreams in college. There won’t be many days when I’m not thinking about how she’s doing and if she needs anything. One of the toughest things about being a dad is letting go. [Tweet This]
What are some of the other toughest parts of the job?
When they are babies we are worried we’re somehow going to break them. Then they start crawling, walking, and getting adventurous, and that worry switches to them breaking themselves. When my oldest started walking, we had a two story home. We gated the stairs for safety, but one day when the top gate was removed my daughter found the steps down. I tried to grab her but was too late. I scooped her up in my arms as she cried. She was fine but we were both temporarily terrified. The knowledge that we are always one mistake away from catastrophe makes me constantly fearful. 18 years later? I still have the same endless concern.
Being Confident in Your Parenting Style
We live in an open society. Freedom. That’s great. But when it comes to parenting styles, I’m a traditionalist all the way. I believe in things like curfews and insisting on knowing what my children are doing. I’m open when it comes to allowing the space to explore and grow as individuals. But regarding rules, they are in place and they will be followed. During these teen years, I often feel like I’m the only parent alive that still gives curfews. I know it’s not true but it can feel that way. So many times my frustrated daughter has come home at 11:30 telling me how embarrassed she is to be the only kid that had to leave. Sorry, kiddo. It’s for your own good. Stand strong in this, fellow dads. You most certainly are not alone.
Children have their ways of getting what they want. Daughters especially have this talent. They can break your heart in a second if they want to with a calculated tear. A dad has to balance wisdom with his melting heart. Not caving to the emotional strings children pull is a must-have skill for parenting. If we caved, our bank accounts would be empty and our kids spoiled rotten. We have to say no when other parents say yes. A delicate balance of appreciation and growing maturity has to take precedence over wants. It’s really hard telling the sweet eyes of a little girl she can’t have anything she wants. Don’t cave, Dad; it matters. But do spoil them with love. She’ll be thankful one day. Until then, keep toughing it out.