Oct 052017 2 Responses

I Don’t Want to Be a Great Dad

There is no such thing as great parents. It’s possible to be a good parent, but it’s not possible to be great parents. While people might look impressive on social media and project a great image to others, being a great parent is a mirage. Every parent fails, has bad moments, and does things which hurts their children.

Trying to be a great dad is a false pursuit. You can try it, but you can’t attain it. While the chase for greatness is better than an apathetic acceptance of mediocrity, it still shouldn’t be our goal. Thankfully, our kids don’t need us to be great.

When I’m honest with myself, my desire to be a great dad is selfish. It’s not about giving my kids what they truly need or raising capable adults. It’s about getting them to love me. I want them to see me as a great dad so they love me. I want others to see that I’ve prioritized my life and family in the right way so they will respect me. (See: 5 Ways to Be a Better Dad)

Desiring to be a great dad is not built on pure motives. And it will not produce good adults.

While my kids need a good dad, they don’t need a great one. They can’t have a great one. The very fact that half their genes are mine ensures I’ve already messed them up for many years to come. I should do my best, but I should not desire to be known as a great dad. Parenthood is a place where good trumps great.

A great dad is too involved in the lives of their children; a good dad is present but not overwhelming. Often what we define as great parenting is actually crossing a line. When parents become too involved in the lives of their children, they stunt the growth of their children. The perception of being a great parent can overwhelm a child. Daddy’s presence can define everything. As my kids grow, I want to support them but they need to increasingly take control of their lives. A good dad will influence their kids, but a great dad tends to dominate. (See: Parenting–Too Involved, Not Involved Enough)

A great dad is depended on too much; a good dad empowers their kids to trust others. If I desire to be a great dad, I will always want to be the one my child turns to for help or answers. While this would be great for me, it would be very bad for them. My kids need to learn they can depend on others. They can trust others. While I’ll do my best for them, my kids need to realize that other people can solve their problems as well. I want my kids to count on me, but I also want them to be able to count on others.

A great dad is defined by his kids; a good dad has a life outside of children. We can’t be great in multiple areas of our lives. A great dad’s life is centered around his children. A good dad has a life beyond his kids. No child deserves the pressure of being the centerpiece of their parent’s life. Children should be important to parents, but they shouldn’t be everything. Instead, parent’s should model a healthy balance for their kids. I can love my kids without being defined by them. I can be a good father to them without being ruled by them. Too many people are defined by their children. This isn’t good for either parent or child.

What My Kids Need More

My kids don’t need a great dad. Even if I could be that, I shouldn’t desire it. There are several things which are far more important to the well-being of my kids than for me to be a great dad.

A good man. More than anything, my kids need me to be the best man I can be. A truly good man is one of character, warmth, and kindness while being fully aware of his own frailty and inability.

A good husband. While loving my children is of utmost importance, one way I love them well is by loving their mother well. As a good husband, I provide a solid foundation for my children.

A good follower. Living our principles of faith is more important than being present for my children at every moment. As a person of faith, I need to model love, service, and belief to my children. For me, following Jesus is of more importance than parenting my children. My faith should make me a better father, but it should also cause me to reject some of what our society honors in parenting.

Many moms or dads feel guilt because they don’t believe they are great parents. Little do they know that there are no such thing as great parents. Pursue goodness more than greatness. Be a man of character and honesty. When these things define you, your kids will have as good of a parent as they need.

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