I’m sure that many of you dads out there have watched in dismay as your children hit their teenage years, and seemingly grew up overnight. It happens so fast; and there’s so much wisdom you want to share that you almost feel panicked that you haven’t done a sufficient job of laying out all the things you wish you had known at their age.
I’m convinced that if you evaluate your parenting skills by comparing what you wanted to do for your kids, and what you actually did teach them, you’ll likely consider yourself a colossal failure. Nevertheless, I think we also recognize that, despite our efforts, our children will have to learn the majority of life’s lessons on their own and in their own way. The best we can hope is that we’ve given them the foundation with which to help them make the right decisions and avoid some of life’s pitfalls.
The converse of that, of course, is that I also think my kids are so unique and wonderful that they’ll excel at everything they try, and make all the right decisions. Of course, that mindset is probably as counterproductive as the first one. Perhaps it’s simply part of being a dad to simultaneously think of your kids as the best in the world, but the least prepared for life’s challenges.
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So here I was this week alternating between those thoughts regarding my son. It was then that I had one of those “dad” moments where you realize that, despite the fact that you might have done so many things wrong as a father, your kids will probably overcome it.
My epiphany began when I had to get out my knife to cut the baling twine my son had used to keep the gas cans from flying out of the back of the truck when he went to fill them. It ended when I went into the horse barn and discovered eight different tasks that my son had used baling twine to accomplish. He had become a virtuoso at using bailing twine!
The crowning moment was when I came across the rope he and his brother had created with the baling twine by combing 5-6 strands of baling twine and a creative use of duct tape. It was at this point that I realized that, while I may never have time to prepare my kids for all the challenges that life will inevitably present, if they can fix 10 different things with baling twine, they probably have a fighting chance. I’m pretty comfortable accepting that.
Of course, being able to repurpose baling twine ranks well below work ethic, values, a relationship with God, a good attitude, common sense and the like. But it’s a life skill that turns out to be pretty handy.
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