How to be a good dad? I have no idea! But I came across a great discussion in Reddit where a user had asked:
Those who grew up with a good father, what was the most important thing you learned from him? – oldskoolflavor
This attracted a lot of responses, and the great thing about Reddit is that the best responses get upvoted to the top, while the negative get downvoted to oblivion. So while Facebook’s comment thread would be quite a mess, Reddit’s actually produced some very nice, thoughtful insights.
As a father of young children who grew up with a difficult/absent father, I found a lot of value in reading through these comments and learning from other people’s dad.
If, in twenty years time, my kids respond to this question in a similar way, I’ll know I’ll have lived a good life.
So, with due credit to those users who kindly shared these comments, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite ones here.
If you don’t know how to make things better, just listen.
Want to read a history of the Aztecs at 6 years old? He took me to the library and we got a real history book and he helped explain what I had a hard time reading. Want to help in the garage? He taught me all the tools and taught me how to clean them and oil them and how to use them. He always took me seriously and answered every question. He was my greatest teacher and my biggest defender and my rock.
I lost him in 2003 and I have missed him every minute since then. How I raised my kids has a whole lot to do with how he raised me.
To always make your loved ones a priority; make it your purpose.
My dad worked hard to give us a comfortable life and more opportunities than most. And after what I can only assume was a long and tiring day, the first thing he’d do was sit and watch cartoons with me and my brothers while asking us about our day.
And when he was forced to quit his job and decided to start up his own company, go on for half a year without income, I can only imagine how stressful it was to be so uncertain about the future while providing for a family of 6. I was slightly young but I never knew anything was wrong. He never let it show. And even though he worked probably ten hours a day, he always took the time to ask me how I was doing and go to every important event with us. My dad was and is a superhero. Always will be.
The next thing I’d say I learnt from him was patience. Whenever he was upset with me or thought there was something up, he’d ask me about it and wait until I was done with my side before saying anything. Really made me feel heard and less worried to tell him something even when I knew it’s not what he’d like to hear.
… how to feed everyone else before I sit down, how to enjoy taking care of someone. I learned how to grow vegetables, I learned how to fix a sink, or rig something together if I need to. I learned diplomacy and patience and practicality. I learned to pay attention to what sounds my car is making, how it feels when it turns or when I let go of the wheel. I learned resilience and perseverance. I learned that I should work hard and do the best I can every time I can and that that’s all I can do. He taught he responsibility and morals, regardless of religion or politics. He taught me how to chop parsley and cook steak, how to fry potatoes for breakfast and how to slice tomatoes thin.
My father is an immigrant, an engineer, a practical but sensitive and caring man. I wouldn’t be who I am or have what I do without him; everything I am or will be is owed to him (and my mother, who is equally magnanimous).