Friday, July 10, 2009

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

I think my title phrase is one of the worst tools in the parental tool box. It may not even be in the tool box. It is more likely a band-aid at the bottom of the parenting emergency first-aid kit. My Dad used this term from time to time. He didn't use it because he had a habit of not following his own advice. He used it because kids are crafty, and they see every time you make a mistake. They are waiting for that chance to tell you that you broke the very rules you have decreed.

Knowing that kids are always watching is all the more reason for us as parents to watch our every move. Our children will imitate everything we do whether good or bad. I have a couple simple example from my own life of ways I imitated my Dad.

I drink my coffee with cream and sugar. Why? That is how my Dad drinks his.

I smoked for about 7 years. I am glad to say that I quit about 6 years ago. It is one of my proudest achievements. When I did smoke I insisted on smoking soft packs rather than the hard packs that all my friends smoked. At the time it was because I was used to them, but why did I start smoking those soft packs? My Dad's smokes were always in a soft pack.

These are just two small examples. Every kid imitates their parents in millions of ways. Everything from making the choice between mustard and mayonnaise to college and career choices. You never know which of your habits they will follow so it is best to watch everything you do.

To use another cliche, "Actions speak louder than words." This is not only true of parenting. At work you don't get paid by the sales you plan to make. You get paid by the ones you actually make. Football players don't get credit for the touchdowns they intend to score. They only get credit once they actually cross the goal line. This is the way the world works. As parents we are in the same boat. We are judged by our actions not our well meaning intentions.

I got off on the do as I say terminology because I myself have not been doing what I say. On this site I am always writing about my philosophies of raising a child. I write about how I love being a father, and I never miss anything from my life before child. I suppose what I am saying is that what I write here is all in theory and sometimes I fall miserably short.

I have struggled with the reality of being husband, father, and engineer in the past few weeks. I have not always been there 100% for my family when I get home from work. My body is there, but my mind is elsewhere, and my actions have shown it.

I guess this is an online confession that I have not lived up to the words on this blog. Most of you only know the theoretical me, which of course is the best I can possibly be. In the real world I find myself floating somewhere below that high standard. Arica and Braden don't get the theoretical me. They get the real guy with all his flaws and shortcomings.

Sorry Arica and Braden. I promise that I will improve that reality until it at least brushes up against the things I preach here.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs


BellaDaddy said...

I for one, appreciate your blog and writings...and can SO relate to this newest one...right there with ya buddy!

Andrew's Daddies said...

We are human and not perfect. We try to live by what we preach. Sometimes we slip, but it's what we do to rectify it that counts.
You obviously love your family and are aware enough to know when you have slipped off track instead of using excuses. That tells me you are a GREAT dad/husband and still in my top 10 HOT Dads!!!!!

Brandy said...

there's a really powerful commercial about little ones imitating us and every time I watch it - it really gets to me.

you can watch it here -

Your post reminded me of it. but your words are so true.

PJ Mullen said...

I hear you man, words are easy. But you know you are a good dad and that you have your son's best interests are heart otherwise this moment in time wouldn't bother you.

Jeve (aka John and Steve) said...

Just the fact that you are aware of your flaws and aim to improve on them for the sake of your children probably means you're a great dad. Good luck with Arica and Braden.

Joel said...

Excellent post. And a good challenge for all Dads.

The best we can do is to try every day to be the man/husband/father we want to be. We'll never reach it, but if we strive we'll be closer to him than to lazy schlub we'd probably naturally descend to.

Thanks for sharing and good luck.

Mike said...

Half the battle is realizing that you are not perfect and are still willing to try to improve. Good for you.

Keep up the lessons with your little one. He will appreciate your attempts at flying straight as much as possible. But if you slip, no worries. Kids need to learn that dads aren't perfect...

Chuck said...

This is an excellent post. This should resonate with every husband and father. If it doesn't then they simply are being true to themselves.

I don't comment as much as I should but I do read and your insights are always appreciated.

mannequin said...

I don't know that any of us are what we write at any given time. I think to be a blend of the truths we abide by and the reality of a hard days work is what we really want to teach our children, don't you?
At any given time, one may overshadow the other, but they both exist.

I think Braden has a very honest, loving and obviously hard working dad. :)

Tom said...

I'm totally there. I know I screw up, all the time, despite my intentions and preachings.

Not that it should give any of us license to fail, but kids are pretty resilient even under the worst of parenting conditions. Do your best, lead with love, take time to evaluate yourself with fairness.

You'll do fine.

Jason said...

Man isn't that the truth. But as others have said above, realizing and admitting you shortcomings is the biggest step.

We've all been there and I'm sure we'll be there again.

otin said...

Self criticism is a great thing! If you don't think that you are living up to your own standards, then you at least have the insight to change, some people are blind when it comes to their own shortcomings!

surprised mom said...

I don't know any parent, any human being that is perfect. You may not be perfect, but it seems you are aware of this and are ready to go the extra mile to correct what you see is wrong. That is a great dad and husband.
Don't we all portray our more "perfect" selves on our blog? Maybe it's a reminder of what we strive to be and that's not bad.
This was a great post. Thanks for sharing.

seashore subjects said...

Great post. It is so true that we aren't always as good as we want to be, but (to borrow another phrase) we can always pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and start all over again (ok, I guess that's a song - but you get the idea)

JonnyTam13 said...

Hang in there man. Your real and your online family definitely understands what you're going through, and we appreciate the complete honesty you've shown. If life was easy, everyone would do it.