Parenting it Forward: Compensating for Our Own Flawed Fathers

michaelAnnouncements, Uncategorized

Moderated by veteran blogging panel moderator Caleb Gardner, this panel addressing moving past, and improving upon, flawed paternal role models consisted of Charlie Capen, Ryan Hamilton, and Eduardo Vega.

But first, I’d like to take a moment to compliment the portability and utility of this fancy Microsoft Surface I’m using right now!

None of us had (or has) a perfect father, but some of us have, unfortunately, endured more difficult circumstances in our childhood than others, such as having a father who is incarcerated, deceased, institutionalized, mentally ill, or abusive.  All of us want to improve upon the flaws we may have experienced growing up with our own fathers.  Thanks, in part, to the dad blogosphere, we don’t have to do this alone.

Does having a badly flawed father mean we are more focused on being a good dad?  For many of us, it does.  But we don’t need to feel we have to compensate for an absent or failing father; we can transcend it without being burdened by having to compensate for it.

The idea of “intentional fatherhood” seems fairly new… there wasn’t much conversation about fathering intentionally in the past.  Technology has made it more possible in many ways, as we can connect with one another and learn from one another.  One of the panelists has been told by an older reader that he would have been a better dad if there had been a blogosphere when he was raising his children.

One way that has been helpful for our panel’s acceptance and moving past his flawed father is to realize his father’s flawed nature was due to mental illness, so he can separate the person from the disease.  Each of us is on a journey as a person, and we don’t have to define ourselves by a condition or disability, but we can instead learn from (and respect) the triumphs over these conditions.

Most of us define ourselves as being a great dad, but technology can help us realize whether we actually are or not, if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves.  While it is subjective, the community technology currently gives us can help us realize whether our standards are high enough.

As far as connection with our own fathers go, we probably had to become fathers ourselves in order to truly connect, understand, and identify with them.

Even those of us who feel like we had good fathers have had moments in our childhood in which we realize he was flawed, whether it came from finding an old “porn stash” or having a conversation about his failure to pursue his dreams.

What about vulnerability?  Why are dad bloggers willing to be open and vulnerable now, when men in the past–especially dads, it seems–absolutely weren’t?  Does it help?  Some of us have sought out close friendships in which we can be open and vulnerable in person, so transitioning online is easy.  Others of us have needed technology in order to be comfortable being vulnerable, as the process of sharing is simpler when the communication occurs (more than likely) alone, and the communication happens later, when we hit “publish.”

How do we shield our children from our own flaws?  Do we need to?  We don’t have to be as stoic as past generations of dads probably did.  Children are very perceptive and can figure out if and when something’s wrong whether we intentionally communicate that something’s wrong or not.  We can talk to them after a hard episode–like a breakdown or an instance of depression–and relate our instance to something with which the child can identify.  Stress, however, that the child is safe and okay even when Dad is having a “bad feeling.”. Let the child know we are okay and still in charge, though.

A final recommendation that has helped some of our panelists is to ask for help!  Give therapy/counseling a try.

– Thanks for your attention — Michael Moebes –

Dad 2.014 Live Blog is presented by Microsoft Surface 2