Friday, 15 February 2013

Guest Dad #1

One thing I want to do with this blog is hear from other Dads about what they think makes a good, and bad, Dad. I have a good friend called Pete, who I met and shared a house with at university. We still meet up from time to time in Sheffield to watch the mighty Owls. I always admired his Dad, John. This is what John had to say – many thanks to him for allowing me to post it here.

"Whilst being flattered, I think that your assessment is more than a little flawed, largely because the proof of the pudding is in the eating and because our mutual exposure has been limited to pleasant but short lived occasions. In my case the 'proof of the pudding' is Peter and Chris. Both Janet and I are proud of them in the sense that they have grown up to be reasonably good blokes whose strengths mainly outweigh their weaknesses. I cannot begin to analyse how much we (and specifically me) have influenced that outcome.
When I look back we have probably been pretty lucky with our kids in that I can’t remember them presenting us with any really serious problems. For instance, if they were ever involved with drugs it can only have been in a minor way because I never knew about it.
I think that the main thrust of being parents was to try to create a stable environment in which the children were happy, and that the way to do this was by encouragement. You need to be involved with their activities for as long as they want you to be but to be very careful not to impose your own ambitions and expectations on them. I saw a lot of parents who, in my view, pressurised their kids, particularly in the areas of academic achievement and sport, and hence we attempted to avoid any suggestion of it. At the risk of teaching Granny to suck eggs it is important to accept your offspring as they are and not as some idealised being that you may want them to be. It’s also important that they know that their parents are flawed but at the same time are just about acceptable. 
'accept your offspring as they are and not as some idealised being that you may want them to be'
My views haven’t changed much over the years but a strange thing happens to most people. At some stage after they have grown up your kids start to regard you as their dependents (rather than the other way round) after which your main aim is not to be too much of an embarrassment to them. We now quite often limit our comments until we are asked because it’s quite hard to recognise that your own children have become fully fledged adults.
In short parenting is day to day interaction in which your responsibilities gradually diminish. Discipline is a tricky subject if you have to apply it but hopefully that application is necessary on only extremely rare occasions. It can mostly be avoided if the kids don’t want to let you down and you don’t let them down."

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