We are also a society that judges people based on the amount of material wealth they accrue, and often harshly so. “The person that dies with the most chips wins” is the motto, and it often seems as though it may as well be part of our national creed. “The person that dies most content;” The person that dies happiest;” “The person that dies having done the most good for others,” these are not things we hear about as much if at all now.
Despite the fact only less than 1% of Americans will ever be rich, and most of those people will be wealthy regardless due to inheritance, we are constantly pumped full of the sugared up notion that we too can be wealthy. Truth is, like the majority of those rich people, most of us everyday Jane's and Joe's will make in our lifetimes about what our parents did, when adjusted for inflation, if not less. Not that we are in a race with our parent's, but that's just a way to view the reality about getting rich in America vs. the hype.
And, like our parents we have strengths and weaknesses. We have times when we are like superheroes to those that look to us for answers, and times we are seen as less than that, if not disappointing. It is, I would imagine, an inevitable outgrowth of life, and in turn of being a parent. As the old saying goes, there is no rulebook for being a parent. There is no guidebook, and every time a book hits the shelves that claims to be the book with all the answers, it is sooner rather than later proven wrong.
For young parents it must be especially hard. There is so much in life they have not been through themselves, and yet, there they are tossed in the deep end of life's pool with a child. Even with help it cannot be easy. What is the right move, what is the correct decision, what's the right thing to say? Days can drag on full of repetition, confusion and frustration.
I would imagine it's enough to make any person dizzy with questions about what to do. I bet it's enough to make a person red faced and mad enough to want to just break something. My guess is it would be enough to make a person just want to go outside, get out and take a break for a while from it all. There's nothing easy about being a parent, and it's not light work. They say it isn't for the weak, but really it's for everybody, if they choose it, or they end up as a parent. If you felt somewhat weak going in, you will learn to become strong as you go.
If you felt selfish going in, you will have to learn to sacrifice as you go. If you felt like you knew what it took to be a good parent, you probably will learn you had absolutely no clue. One day might seem like the hardest thing for some parents, while being the easiest for others. What is seen as a grounded and strong parent by one group of people can be viewed as a helicopter parent by others. What is seen as too loose by some can be seen as allowing kids space to grow and have their own experiences by others.
There are lines, and I would imagine most parents see those lines via common sense, and discover the rest by either tripping over them, or almost doing so. In our society, along with being the perfect earner, and most successful, at what you do, in terms of income, people are often judged by how well they are perceived to be doing as parents. How well have your children done in school, how much material goods do your kids have compared with the next person's.
Our various forms of media help in pushing that on society. They lay out their definition of what a perfect parent should be, and then push that idea on us over, and over, and over again, until just like those ten songs that get all the airplay on radio, or ten stories that stay in rotation in the news, despite the hundreds of thousands of things that happen daily that could be reported on, that's all we hear about and all we know about.
For a young father it must be especially hard. Being young can seem like the best thing to be – until you have a kid, then I would imagine it can feel like the weight of the entire world is on your shoulders and nobody gave you the directions as to how to carry that weight the right way. Men are supposed to be strong, they are the heroes. In the movies they are always the ones that get the girl and save the day. Even the bad guys in movies are strong compared with the rest of us. The heroes in video games are usually men, and they usually are capable of incredible feats.
Our favorite athletes, musicians, rock stars and rappers seem to have it all, and with all that money and fame you could give your kid anything. The heroes in the media like powerful politicians, businessmen and military heroes all seem to have done everything right and have all the answers.
Maybe you don't get to save the world at the end of the day. Maybe, you don't feel like the strongest guy in the world most of the time, and more like just an average person with your own set of flaws and foibles. Maybe you are not capable of incredible feats like heroes in video games. Maybe you are not like the famous athletes, musicians with all the money and fame and can't just give your kid anything they want (regardless of whether that's true or not for those people). Maybe you aren't like the powerful politicians, businessmen and military heroes, that seem to have all the answers.
But see, that's alright, because you live in the real world. In the real world, even the wealthiest people have problems as parents and their own failures. In fact, money can just complicate things at the end of the day, making the relationship between the parent and child difficult. You may be thankful you don't have that burden. In fact, a father just getting by paycheck to paycheck may very well be a better dad than the millionaire father.
People with a lot of fame don't have it better in terms of being a parent, and all that fame, and the huge amount of time required for its upkeep, can present its own very difficult obstacles for parents. Sometimes, the dad that was there for after school, that was there for the games, that was there for the play, that was there for the parent teacher conference, that was there for worship on Sunday, that was there to help with homework, even if he didn't have all the answers himself, that was there to make breakfast, lunch or dinner, that was there to help teach how to ride a bike, that was there to play catch, shoot hoops, throw a football or wrestle, that was there to give dating advice, that was there to do the shopping, that was there to build a snowman, that was there to catch their child when they were going the wrong way, that was there to teach about respecting others; sometimes these are the very best dads ever. Truth is, it's what many rich kids pray for.
You don't have to be the dad from TV that seemed to have it all, because that guy doesn't exist. You can be weak and still be a good dad, because that is what real parents are. That's right, in reality the best parents aren't always strong, sometimes they have weaknesses, and that's okay. What's most important and what makes the best dad is the effort. It's the being there. It's the trying over and over, even when you fail. Just showing you care and putting in the real effort.
It might seem like a scary thing, fatherhood, but the best things in life require a leap of faith, and coming from a son with a dad that was strong sometimes, but not always, I can tell you, you don't have to be perfect. The entire batch of dad's in my neighborhood when I was growing up had their strengths and weaknesses. Just be a dad the best way you can figure it. My dad didn't have a father in his life, but he gave me and my brother the best he could. That's all you have to do. Be a real dad. You'll make it, even if you feel like you're just too young and don't have enough. It's okay, you already are enough.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.