For millions of men who did not have a father growing up, it is sweet redemption for those who make the effort to provide a better experience to the next generation.
There are varying degrees of disappointment among today’s generation of fathers who were raised by single or divorced mothers. It can relate to the experience of witnessing one’s parents’ divorce and the mild trauma that comes from their failed marriage. There could have been a physical separation between each parent that limited a day-to-day relationship between father and son. And then there’s estrangement, which leaves the children to wonder how everything went so wrong and if they themselves are to blame.
These kinds of scenarios often result in a lifetime of confusion, but for the man who steps up and provides his kids with a better childhood experience, nothing is more rewarding. It is a course correction in the lineage of a man’s family, where the bond between father and son or dad and daughter is strengthened across generations.
The upside to this kind of family history is it has no direct impact on the next generation to be born. Our children represent a clean slate; we should draw hope from this. The opportunity to do right by our kids should represent the impetus that motivates us as fathers to aim higher than our parents who came before us.
The fathers today who are involved and loving parents but lacked the same experience growing up represent a special breed of dads. They are providing an upgrade within their nuclear family in every respect.
Their commitment represents a distinction worthy of merit – a backslap or a toast at the very minimum. Consider the circumstances of a man who comes from a divorced home but commits himself to a long and happy marriage with the woman he loves. Think about his experience as a latchkey kid, not having a regular day-to-day relationship with his father or enduring his parents’ financial challenges (which often go hand-in-hand with separation/divorce). Despite this experience, he is a devoted husband committed to raising healthy and well-balanced children.
When it comes to establishing this kind of legacy as a father, is there anything more honorable? It’s a happy ending to a story that started out with a dark and sometimes twisted premise. Even though it sounds like a script straight out of Hollywood, this kind of story plays out across every main street in America. For the dads who step up, I say… give these men an Oscar in the category of, ‘Best Supporting Parent.’
For men who are looking for inspiration, consider what Bruce Springsteen shared in his recent autobiography. He’s not from Hollywood but his experience as a rock star and a parent are relevant. In his book, ‘The Boss’ writes about his childhood experiences. It represented both sides of the coin.
He shares how the experience of being a child provides one with a treasure chest filled with wonderful experiences. For Bruce, this included memories of his family, friends, music and his neighborhood. However, his childhood also had a dark side, the result of one person who caused him great angst.
That person was his father. According to Bruce, the memories of his father still haunt him to this day but despite it all (and the success he experienced as an artist) he did right by his kids. He had the foresight to not make the same mistakes that his father made.
You don’t have to be Bruce Springsteen to be this kind hero, you just have to be there for your kids. If you’re doing that today, on some level you are a hero. Take pride from the fact that you’re giving your kid(s) a slightly bigger treasure chest filled with warm memories.