Question & Answer With MoChassid - Are You A Good Father?
A Simple Jew asks:
In October 2004, I posted on the topic of trying to ascertain whether one is a good father. Without arrogance, I can say that if one looked at all the fathers in the world and graded them on a curve, I would be above average. However, if I was to grade myself according to my own standards, I don't know if I would even be getting a "C".
Being a father of three young children has made me accutely aware of my selfishness, anger, and lack of patience. When these shortcommings are manifest, I see a side of myself that I am not proud of. I completely identify with Rabbi Osher Freund's saying, "My anger proves that I am a total hypocrite!"
MoChassid, your mesiras nefesh as a foster parent has been a great inspiration to me. If I were to point to anyone as an example of "good father", I would point to you. What words of practical advice and chizuk can you give other fathers to be the best fathers they can be?
Having a wife who is on the same page as you is an absolute key. Having one with infinite patience and wisdom is a big help. And, having had a father, z'l, who set such a great example is also a big part of my being a decent dad. Also, my mother, zzg, taught me a tremendous amount about parenting. Mainly, she taught me not to take myself too seriously.
I think my biggest strength as a father is my sense of humor. I always try to make my kids laugh. A house full of humor is a happy house. When they are in bad moods, I do goofy things to try to get them to laugh.
Consistency is also important. Kids need to know what to expect from you.
Being there is also important. Kids need to know that they are the most important things in your life. (My kids knew that I would go to great lengths never to miss a ball game, school play or recital, no matter how busy I was at work and even to the extent of changing around my travel plans. They may not say anything but I know it meant a lot to them).
Finally, being very, very slow to anger is one of the most important parts of being a good dad. It is one thing to be structured (or even strict) but you can never lose it. Anger is the most destructive thing you can do for kids. I almost never yelled at my kids. (Although I did once lose it with "Judah", an episode I think about and regret to this day).
I remember hearing from Rav Frand that anger is just the flip side of ego. One gets angry because he thinks things are coming to him. Although my mother always made me feel special she never let my ego get out of whack. I think that is the ikar.
I hope this was helpful. (Come to think of it you should ask OOS what makes me a good dad!)
I would like to add a very important point that I neglected about being a good father.
Talking the talk is useless. Kids see right through it. You have to walk the walk. If you want your kids to be menches, you have to be a mench. If you want your kids to treat people with respect, you need to treat people with respect (especially your wife). They observe everything you do. You can lecture them until you are blue in the face and it will have zero impact. It's all about what you do, not what you say.