Father’s Day thoughts

June 20, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

I am the lucky father of two young ladies, aged 10 and 11.  Though I have worked hard with my wife to raise these two girls for more than a few years, this work doesn’t qualify me as any sort of expert.  I am a father like most other fathers, without any specialized training or insights regarding parenting.

I think about my daughters every hour of every day, and that is no different than most other fathers. I am far too often away from home at work missing my daughters, often painfully so, but this is unfortunately typical in our culture. I want the best for my children, and in that regard, I am no different than any other father. I can’t imagine not having become a father, and that is another thought that occurs to virtually every other father.

Though extolling fatherhood in writing is not something that all other fathers do, I am far from unique in this regard too. I work hard to respect the privacy of my daughters . It is not my right to freely disclose details about my relationship with either of my daughters to a large online audience. It is for this reason alone that you won’t read much about my relationships with my daughters (though here is a rare exception). I’m tempted to share thousands of joyous moments on this site, because these sorts of powerful moments happen every day. I don’t write about these private happenings, however, because it wouldn’t be fair.

These privacy concerns won’t stop me from writing about fatherhood in general.  Here I am, writing on “Father’s Day,” knowing full well that for all committed fathers, every day is Father’s Day. Every moment one sees one’s child beaming a smile, it is Father’s Moment. As I sit here tonight, I find myself thinking that this is an appropriate day for re-considering what it is that I’ve been trying to accomplish as a father. This sort of contemplation exercise was encouraged by the authors of a child-raising book called The Manipulative Child: How to Regain Control and Raise Resilient, Resourceful and Independent Kids, by E.W. Swihart and Patrick Cotter (Don’t be put off by the title). These two authors encourage parents to periodically set aside the time to draft a concise statement of what it is that they are trying to accomplish as parents.

We live in a scary world, and the ubiquitous dangers frame my views on parenting.  I’m like most parents in that I constantly struggle to walk a fine line with my children. I want them to feel safe, but I also want to prepare them for the real world. It is in this context that I define my goal as a father something like this: When my daughters grow up to be adults, if they are still relying on me, or tending to my wants, putting me on any sort of pedestal or trying to please me, then I have failed as a father. When my daughters become adults, what I seek is a genuine friendship with each of them. In my view, a loving friendship is the sort of relationship that results between a parent and a child if the parenting has been successful.

My hope is also that my daughters, once grown, will have developed the wide array of skills necessary to allow them to compete well with the global workforce, not merely the American workforce. I want them to also have the social skills (emotional intelligence) to allow them to confidently thrive both within and outside of groups. I want them to feel comfortable around many types of human beings, including those who have very few material resources.  Nor do I want them to feel any obeisance when they find themselves in the company of people who have greater notoriety, power or material resources.  I want them to be self-critical, such that they will want to repeatedly revisit their own most cherished presumptions (as well as those of others). And as my own mother told me, I want my daughters to be kind-hearted.

Without going into any details, I am celebrating on this Father’s Day because I live with two kind-hearted, hard-working, self-critical, independent-minded daughters.  There is a lot to celebrate today.  My hope is that my beautiful daughters will continue their impressive journeys out into the world in order to make the world a better place, and to discover who they themselves are in the process. That is my Father’s Day hope.

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Category: Culture, Friendships/relationships, Meaning of Life

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    And here is the elephant in the room this Father's Day; this is an excerpt from "Daddy, Could We Have Our Planet Back Now?" by Joseph Romm of Salon.com:

    "[T]he truth is that the people we like to share the least with are our own children. "We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children," the saying goes. Right now, though, we've borrowed the entire Earth, trashed much of it, and don't plan to give back the rest of it. We are plundering the world's "renewable resources" — arable land and tropical forests and fisheries and fresh water. And we are using an ever-greater fraction of nonrenewable energy resources, especially hydrocarbons, with devastating consequences that will far exceed what we are now witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico."

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/06/20/fath

    Oh, and it gets worse (also by Romm):

    "The website RealClimate points out that the amount of dangerous carbon dioxide we spew into the air each day from burning fossil fuels and deforestation is roughly equivalent to 'five thousand spills like in the Gulf of Mexico, all going at once … every day for decades and centuries on end.'"

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