Which do you think is more difficult, being a dad or tolerating your own dad?
While a Mom will love you and overlook your flaws and reassure you and accept you the way you are and make excuses for you, Dads tend to challenge you to change, to achieve and to measure up to their standards.
One of the things that makes being a dad difficult is that it exposes many of the weaknesses and character flaws that your father used to hassle you over. Those things that bothered him about you are now showing up in your kids and starting to bother you. What bothers you is that must deal with those issues in yourself before dealing with your kids.
That truth is reflected in this letter to Todd Wilson, of The Familyman Ministry:
Oh dear, Todd.
I fear that I have some bad news. I learned of you and met you for the first time recently…I thought for sure that we could be lifelong friends. But lately, I've been having my doubts.
I have read and listened to your weekly posts and podcasts, especially recently. Although they are laden with truth and accuracy, they present a serious problem for me. You see, whenever I read them or listen to them, I feel like I'm being shown the potential that is within me, rather than the reality that I live out every day. It’s like God, through you, is trying to remind me of what I could be as a dad and husband, not just what I am.
As you surely know, this is not desirable. In fact it hurts. It seems to require that I humble myself, and change my ways. And, oh my, that is just unthinkable. To stop and spend time with my kids? To push them on a tire swing? To read them a book or tell them a story before bed? No, no, no. I have too many things on the "to do" list. There just isn't time. Maybe there will be time...later. And anyway, I'm mowing the grass for my family. I'm washing the cars...for my family. I'm tending the garden....for my family. Right? Of course I am. That is what is important to them. That is what they want from me.
I know in my mind that this is fact. It is common sense. And then...here you come in with your writing and your speaking, and try to turn my world upside down. You try to tell me that "there is another way". My mind and perfectionist nature reject your simple suggestions. And how I wish that was all to the story. But...but...something else inside of me (my spirit, or heart, perhaps?) seems to relate to what you say. I'm not sure why, and my mind cannot comprehend it, so I try to suppress it. But then I listen to you again. And then I read another post. And then I hurt worse than the last time. And then I start to cry. Like right now. Me, a grown, independent, perfect father and husband...crying about something that I know I already have total control over. Why do I cry? (Please note the sarcasm in all of the above) (Oh, and the sarcasm ends now).
I cry because I know what you say is true. I cry because what you suggest takes work, and is hard, and oh how lazy I am to work and change. And I know that it’s 'good', but it’s still hard. It’s hard for me to stop being selfish, even if I mask it and call it 'serving my family'. It’s still being selfish and self centered. It’s hard for me to swallow the truth and commit to be better today. To be better again tomorrow. To be the Dad. To stop the doing and start the living. To focus on what’s important.
I cry because I struggle to accept that God loves me for who I am and who he created me to be, not for what I do or how good or fast or efficiently I do it. I love my kids and wife more than anything, but I know I'm showing them that love in my own language, not in their language. I could go on.
I realize now that I've written you the equivalent of a high school term paper... in length at least. Sorry about that.
Dad's, stay in the battle! Listen to your fathers (the one on earth and the One in Heaven) and make the hard changes to be a better Christ-follower, a better husband, a better dad, and a better friend.