November 10, 2008

My Mentors for Parenting...

I am a real TV Baby Boomer nut!!! I can’t begin to list all the advice that I actually got from Dad’s of TV shows. It sounds ridiculous, but I actually can attribute Andy Griffin, Dick Van Dike, Jim Anderson, Ward Cleaver, and up to the TV show, “Home Improvement” dad, Tim, “The Toolman” Taylor to giving me more good advice than any other on being a good father. Of course, my memory is reinforced, thankfully, by repeats of these shows on channels like TV Land. :-)

I was always moved emotionally when any of these Dads used understanding and some wisdom to teach their children some valuable lessons about life and how to treat others. These were fathers who were very into their families and their children. Obviously, there were many 1950’s family characteristics that seemed to show the father as the head of the household, but in almost every case, the mother was really the driving force and many times the light of compassion and understanding for whatever problems “The Beaver” would get into. Later shows such as “Home Improvement” showed a more balanced effort of parenting of both the mother and the father, but obviously for me, I looked to the father’s as my mentors as they cared about how their children learned right from wrong.

Actually, I am still learning from these dads, even though my youngest daughter is almost 20 and in college. I have always been driven to insure that I did whatever I could to make my children try their hardest at whatever they do, respect others and always accept people for who they are on the inside and not let other friends influence them to treat people disrespectfully. At the same time, I find it hard to deal with my children going into those more self centered years of adolescence, when they don’t necessarily look to you as the best example of all things in life, like they did when they were little. Such an example occurred between the dad from “Home Improvement” and one of his sons. The best advice that the kindly and ever wise next door neighbor, Wilson, gave to Tim (the dad) Taylor was “how can a child become a man (or woman/adult) unless they stop looking at the parent as a God and start questioning their parent to learn how to become an adult themselves?” This was an excellent point and hit me as I wonder many times right now why my 20 year old daughter doesn’t necessarily call us or come home to visit us as much as we think she should be doing....or why she doesn’t think to email me or gives us only as much information as we ask for and doesn’t sit down and ask for heart to heart sessions. She is learning to make these decisions herself.

These are just normal actions of a person becoming an adult! I can remember when I began to think that I knew better ways of doing things than my parents and I looked less to them for constant guidance. Then, as we get older, we begin to realize the importance of our parents and that they won’t live forever and both start to make an effort to let them know we appreciate them as well as acknowledge that we are young and haven’t gone through the amount of life experiences that our parents have, so we can come to them when we are confused and need help making a decision.

Children come back, as my older daughter, who is almost 30 now. She is closer to me now than she has been for many years. She is a teacher and as she interacts with children and their parents, now her mind can relate to things that she may have disagreed with years before.

So here’s to my Heros (and I don’t mean Superman...) when I was growing up and how they helped me be a better Dad! Here’s to Andy, Dick, Ward, Tim and all my other Dad heros who I think did a pretty good job with me as my children are great examples of the kind of people I hoped they would be and actually... that I aspire to be as well


Anonymous said...

This couldn't be more true!! I wish my dad was like the dads on these shows. I hope when i'm older we can be closer than we are now like you said with you and your daughter!!

David said...

If I put myself in the shoes of either side, as a child, during my teenage years, I found plenty of fault with my parents and vowed that I would do things differently. As I grew older, even before I became a parent, I began to not just look for the faults, but to find and enjoy the many good things about my parents. Sure, the negatives were still in my mind, but there was great stuff also. As I becasme a parent, I struggled with both of these feelings in me and perhaps, with my first daughter, may have been overly zealous in trying to be the "perfect dad"...(remember, these dads are fictional, but good examples). As I got older, I consoled myself with, as long as I was thinking of all sides, I was doing the very best that I was capable of. Now that I am 56 and my daughters are adults, I find that I know a lot and yet, I know nothing... :-)

It's really all about how we all go through normal phases of life and it's also about forgiveness. We need to forgive our parents and we need to forgive ourselves. If we are trying to do both of these and ALWAYS remembering to love, well.... that's good enough!

Take care and enjoy each day, at least as much as you can!

Anonymous said...

I use some of those tv dads as inspirations myself. As a father,I find raising a teenage daughter very difficult at some times, especially after my wife and I divorced and I know how hard it is to get them to tell you things. You sound like a great father and your children must adore you!

David said...

Thank you for the compliment! We also all went through a divorce. It was hardest on the older daughter, who was 13 and my other daughter was 3. It was the hardest thing we ALL ever have gone through! It ended up being the right thing, as everyone, including their mother has found happiness and I think my daughters have more strength in them because of it.

As you know, this subject is one we could all write books about. The best thing my ex-wife and I did was STOP arguing. We started early on, going to every school event and all sitting together. I even remarried and we all sat together at events. This made everyone move on and just love and forgive each other.

So I am no where near perfect, but I think my daughters know I I know they do.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

These tv dads tought me so much over the years. If I learned anything from them it was probably to let your kids grow up and let them be who they want. This was probably most useful to me when my only daughter got married, it was one of the hardest things I've had to do as a parent but I know that she's happy and she's in good hands!