One thing you do not realize before you become a parent is that you will never again have a single moment of privacy until your kids are older. You make concessions when you become a parent because this fact becomes clear very quickly. For example, when my daughters were born, I started wearing more clothing when I slept, because I very quickly came to understand that I would have little ones taking over my bed in the middle of the night or I might have to jump up and take care of a child. I learned that I would not watch 85% of the movies or TV shows I would normally watch before the first one was two years old. My wife and I also learned that most of our “free time” would revolve around our children’s wants and needs.
One of the most terrifying and spectacular things about becoming a father is knowing that there are little eyes watching what you do all the time. This creates a pressure that is incredibly heavy at times for some of us because we understand that our kids learn 100 times more by what they see us do than by what we say or tell them.
“My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.”
–Clarence Budington Kelland
This puts a lot on your shoulders; I wrote a post a while back called “Don’t you want to be Superman” you should go back and read that if you missed it and I still stand by the idea. It dealt with this subject a little bit as well.
It is a whole lot more than that though, a child’s brain is more tuned to learning in the first 5 years of their life than any other point in their life, and their brain is 90% developed by 5 years of age. They are just a sponge during that time! If you have kids between 5 and 10 then you know it is nothing but non-stop questions about things you don’t even take the time to contemplate as an adult.
In an episode of the TV show “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin says he knew that Terri was the one he wanted to marry based on how she reacted when a snake bit her face. My daughter asked me a month later randomly, “how did Terri getting bitten in the face tell Steve she was the one?” “How did that set her apart to him?” She is 8 years old, she contemplates everything she sees and hears; you can look at her and see the wheels turning non-stop. So the pressure to set the right example is immense; everything I do is being scrutinized by my kids 24 hours a day. No action or word is immune.
It’s up to us to build the future by the way we are living now. Every generation knows the world doesn’t belong to them the second they have a child. We know that the world we are building is for the lives we are now responsible for. (Not just for, but to) That is the cycle, when our children are old enough they will have the same realization. Like a business you are always working towards the future if you want that business to succeed. You cannot get lost in the now if you want it to be there tomorrow and the next day and the day after.
Take a deep breath, it is a lot of burden to carry.
It is the same burden that every man who has gone before us felt. Take a minute and scrutinize your father in your mind; how much did he do to ensure you had the life you had? You will do the same now, only we all hope to do it better or bigger than our fathers did; that is just a natural progression.
You need to start simple though, it is the fundamental things that count more than any other. Things that we may have long ago stopped actively thinking about. Things that are second nature to us like how we interact with other people. Every time we interact with anybody; friends, family, strangers, our own kids even. We are setting a precedent for how to do those things.
“One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
– Howard W. Hunter
Our interaction with our own family may be one of the most vital things we do. Our kids see the good and bad that happens from day to day in our households, conflict resolution with the people we care about is a vital skill to teach them by example. Your children know when you are at odds with someone in the house even if you try to hide it. So make sure they know how to resolve the issue in a healthy way.
One of the first shirts I designed says,
“We all die: Live in such a way that your sons want to be you and that your daughters measure all men by you.”
The future of your children’s lives is set by the life you live in front of your children. The future of their relationships and their children is also set by the same.
Set the standard high and they will accept nothing less, be the man you hope your children will become and they will.
The Fallible Man
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!