I am a father. My job is an important one.
For some reason, I felt the strong need to write down a few items that were on my mind this morning as I was preparing to leave for an appointment. Perhaps this will help someone.
I have made no secret here on my blog about the lack of proper fathering that I received as a child. My mom basically raised me by herself, with help from my grandparents. So, what did I miss out on? Well, I am notoriously UNhandy, since I had no dad to teach me how to fix things. Also, I have almost zero interest in how cars work, hunting, fishing, and baseball. I was never really taught how to handle conflict or how to take constructive criticism (or a punch). I was allowed to quit an activity on a whim if it bothered me. I still regret not finishing my senior year of football.
If it makes up for anything, I am a major NFL football fan, but I got this from my mom. My stepdad was a computer analyst in the 70's, so I did learn about this subject from an early age. There were also a couple of years (maybe more) that he spent in the front yard with me, throwing passes as I played wide receiver. Sadly, this didn't make up for the bad times, which are still seared into my memory, although I don't dredge them up or use them as an excuse for my own behavior now.
I was an only child, as was my wife, so having three kids in the house has been a different experience for us. However, I have often said that I learned how to parent by learning how NOT to parent by watching my father and stepfather as I grew up.
There are some specific things that stand out in my mind's eye as egregiously bad fathering. I can confidently state that my children will never have to worry about these types of things happening. The list below is not fiction, unfortunately:
My children will not have to worry about me disappearing on the day they are born to "get some pizza" for my wife (who has gone without for months), then going on a days-long drinking binge instead.
My kids don't have to worry about me cheating on their mom in front of them (granted, I was too young to have any memory of this, but my dad admitted it to me when I was grown).
I promise not to leave their mom and become a small-time drug dealer while I find myself.
They will not have to worry about me having the maximum legal limit for marriages conducted in the state of Texas (which is five, by the way - all of which ended in divorce for my dad).
I promise not to smoke myself into a very early grave.
I promise to wear clothing when their friends come over, rather than hanging out in my "tidy whities".
I promise not to bait them into arguments just for fun.
I will never be jealous of the time that they have with their mom.
I promise not to scream and cuss at them until they are demoralized.
They won't have to see me getting arrested in front of all of our neighbors for resisting arrest after RUNNING A STOP SIGN.
I promise to maintain contact with all of them for the rest of my life, rather than simply allowing two of them to slip away and sort of leave the family altogether.
I promise not to refer to "Jack in the Box" in such a vulgar fashion that they will never forget it every time they pass one, even at age 38.
I can assure them that if they come to visit for the holidays, I will not hide in the bedroom watching TV by myself for the duration of their stay.
I promise not to take any of them to see violence-and-sex-laden movies when they are 10 or under (yes, this happened to me).
I promise not to keep adult magazines in the house, especially in a place that is ridiculously easy to access.
If I am jealous of a family member, they will never know, because I am mature enough to keep this to myself.
I promise to buy my wife thoughtful gifts for her birthday or Christmas, not velour Dallas Cowboys beach towels or tool sets (both of which happened when I was a child).
I will make an effort to get along with their friends, unless there is a reason not to do so.
I will not act differently when I am with my friends - they will get the best of my personality, so that they won't have to hear about how great a guy I am, when I am a quiet jerk at home.
I won't take up a hobby that consumes my time to the exclusion of my family. I will likely never be a pro golfer, for this reason.
I will be present in the house to watch them grow.
I promise to talk to them about God and Jesus, and how important my faith is.
I promise to pray with them and for them.
I promise to do the best that I can, knowing that I will make mistakes as a dad sometimes.
I promise to love them unconditionally. They know this already, because I tell them.