Be a Good Enough Dad, Part II

In the part I of this post we discussed what it means to be a good enough dad. The definition I used was: a dad who is present, engaged, and responsive to the child. We also mapped out that responsive parenting is the cornerstone of success. Responsive parenting has two steps: Fully listening to the needs child and (when they are done expressing) answering the needs of the child.

For part II, I would like to start by addressing the negative self-talk we as parents may have and what to do about it.  I continually struggle with this one and have to work on it every day.  Changing and ridding yourself of the “not good enough” feeling takes time, patience, and acceptance. 

Often my negative self-talk appears through the most ordinary of ways.  A good example would be when I let my kids watch too much TV or when I am short with them and raise my voice.  I know that I shouldn’t do these things so I beat myself up about it.  But when I look at any situation like this, what am I really dealing with?  Generally speaking I am dealing with two things. 

The first thing is that in my weakest moments I have an underlying unmet need.  In the case of letting them watch too much TV, the unmet need could be that I just need time to breath or time where the kids are not focusing on me so I can accomplish a task.  Unmet needs develop into less than wonderful behaviors.

The second thing is that I am dealing with a perfectionist attitude.  What is a perfectionist attitude?  Simply put:  Since I know better, I should do better…and when I don’t, I will feel shame.  Perfectionism is a terrible thing to get hooked into and to base all of our actions on.  Measuring ourselves against a perfect ideal is a sure way to suck all the joy out of our life.  On one hand it is good to have a perfect ideal in our mind to aim at and to guide us towards becoming the best version of ourselves.  On the other hand, it can cut us apart if we use the perfect ideal as a benchmark to judge ourselves. 

So, how do we begin to eliminate this negative self-talk and the not good enough feeling?  We have to change our optics in how we view our role as parent. 

I have been practicing this in two ways. First, I have been reminding myself that parenting is not only about raising a child.  Parenting is about developing personally while we raise and develop the child.  These happen in hand in hand. Secondly, parenting is not a science!  Parenting is pure artistry!  Art never has a perfect ideal.  Parenting is an art because there is no one size fits all approach to the daily struggles.  We as parents have to acquire many tools and use them in a myriad of different ways to work through all of the situations we may be faced with.  When we couple these two things together (developing self and it’s an art form) our new standard becomes something like this:  I am committed to do the best that I can each day.  I will learn and do better over time through observation and reflection.

All of this leads me to my favorite paradox: Failure is the only path to success.

Everything single thing I have tried I have failed at until I didn’t

I bet as you look at your life experience it reads the same way.  We try things and fall down…we keep trying and working at it until we are successful.  Get used to the idea that failure is expected and is the pathway to developing successful outcomes.  When we look at life with this understanding it is really hard to maintain a perfectionist attitude.  It is okay to fail so long as we are dedicated to the process of learning and doing better next time.  It is from the ashes of our failures from which success is born. 

When we fail or disappoint ourselves we should aim to accept that is happened.  It is critical to sit with it and own the experience.  Doing so will allow the failure to teach us something and help us grow stronger.  We should be careful not to judge ourselves too harshly on it for that leads to a defeatist attitude.  Fail fast by learning from the moment so we can get on to doing better.

What does all of this translate into?  Being a great leader/influencer in your household!  When we can dedicate ourselves to the process of self-development and being consistently responsive to our children, we can cultivate an environment where love and appreciation is found.

A great leader keeps their eyes on the goal, reflects/adjusts when needed, and builds up those who are following. 

Another big thing with great leaders…they don’t influence by words alone…they walk the walk.  Children will do what we do and it doesn’t matter what words we assign with it.  So let’s demonstrate and model for them more than telling them.

To recap both posts- Be a Good enough dad:

  • Responsive parenting (listen then respond)
  • Eliminate negative self-talk by being committed to personal growth and recognizing that parenting is an art
  • Expect and own failures for that is the pathway for growth
  • Lead by example with consistent well thought out actions (words mean little in the scheme of things)

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Paul Gilmore via Unsplash

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