I was reading a novel the other day and came across a passage that struck me. A girl is seeing her father in a new way. She fears he is cheating on her mother. And she says that she sees “…the inevitable space between father and man.” What a description. There is an image we always project as fathers. And eventually every child has to realize that his dad isn’t really that guy, he’s just a normal guy. A guy who is hateful sometimes. A guy who struggles. A guy who loses his temper. There is an “inevitable space” between how we portray ourselves as fathers and who we really are.
I don’t think that’s a good idea. I think we may need to be honest with our kids. I don’t mean we need to expose them to things they are not ready for. I just think we should tell the truth. I think we should show them that we fail. So that when they fail, they don’t feel they need to hide it. They may have even learned what to do.
So when I screw up with my kids, which I do fairly regularly, I apologize. I go back and say “I’m sorry” and give them the opportunity to forgive, another valuable skill. I want them to see that I have made a mistake and also to see that this is what you do when you make mistakes.
I don’t want them to grow up and one day realize that I’m not who they thought I was. I want them to learn from my successes but I also want them to learn how to fail. To fail well. I’d like to close that space between father and man. Maybe it’s not so “inevitable.”