Learning To Be The Dad I Want To Be

"Am I a good dad?" That's a question I've been asking myself a lot lately. Especially when we have to punish one of our kids, or they "guilt" me when I say no to something.

More times than not I feel lost being responsible for two young children, who are quickly growing into young adults. It's harder than I expected in many ways. Especially when you get such a late start in life like I did, and you're set in your ways (like I was...and to an extent, still am). As my wife warned me before we got married, "There's no more me, now it's we," and she's right.

I have a lot of self doubt about being a "good dad." Like any couple, my wife and I have our differences when it comes to parenting styles. She has a head start on me and is a lot more patient than I am. Up until 18 months ago or so, most of my "practice" was purely theory, and that came from reading articles, books, magazines and talking to friends and family who have children. It's a lot different when you have to put that theory into everyday practice.

My wife's been a saint through my ups and downs. I know it's not easy for her either, because she's had her own way of raising these children, now I come along to share responsibilities and put my two cents worth into the jar about how we should discipline, homework, schedules and everything else couples have to figure out. I'm finding I can be suborn, and I'm sure petty at times.

What I hate the most is when I'm stressed, I know everyone can sense it and feel it...and that makes me unhappy. Both my kids will come up, pat me on the head and say "It's OK, it will be OK, don't stress." It shows in my face and my body language. I just want to do the best job I can, but this is the hardest job I've ever had. Unlike radio, I didn't have an education in child rearing, intern opportunities or start in small radio market in Coeur 'd Alene, Idaho. I dove straight in with a couple of ten (now eleven) year olds. 

They're growing up fast, and are also having to adapt to having someone new around who tells them to do their homework, reminds them about chores, and gets on them when they're misbehaving. 

I love them, and even though we butt heads from time to time, I know they love me and have grown to laugh at my quirks (which is fine by me, because I laugh at them too).

So I try to do the best I can. I listen to my wife. I (try) to accept her complements when she says I'm doing better than she ever imagined, and I ask a lot (and I mean A LOT) of questions. But the question I ask myself the most is the one that will perhaps continue to nag me in the back of my mind for the rest of my life- "Am I a good dad?" Right now, in my mind, the verdict is still out.

Dan Mitchinson

Dan Mitchinson

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