I’m terrible at accepting compliments of any kind, but none make me more uncomfortable than those that praise my parenting.
They make me feel like a fraud.
Because despite how enlightened I may seem, and despite the love I have for my kids, I am not a good dad. I’m around and I’m involved, but being around and involved is the easy part. The days getting credit for the bare minimum are long gone.
When it comes to everything else, and especially when it comes to helping imbue my oldest with the self-confidence every kid needs – especially kids whose differently-wired brains are constantly making things harder and making them doubt themselves – I’m falling way short.
I criticize my 11yo too much.
Like many firstborns, he gets more than his fair share of frustration and grief. For being forgetful. For being lazy. For being messy. For being selfish, fighting with his brother, and talking back.
Some is ADHD-related stuff that I’m still learning to navigate, but there’s also typical adolescent behavior that most of us were probably just as guilty of. I know I was (and I wasn’t dealing with half the stuff kids are faced with these days)!
In fact, the very traits that define me – being sarcastic, not taking anything seriously, being stubborn, needing the last word, having incredible looks – are the very traits that have us butting heads.
But my “reasons” don’t matter; I’m an adult and a father and I have no excuses. No matter how hard things get, or how annoying and stressful parenting a gorgeous middle-schooler with ADHD and a genetic predisposition to be argumentative and snarky can be, I owe both of my kids my undying love and support.
Everyone has their own struggles, and everyone needs someone in their corner, having their back, building them up. Kids most of all. I am that someone for my sons, and lately I haven’t been doing a good job of it.
I’m posting this not for compliments or praise – for caring, or for being willing to learn, or for admitting my mistakes. I’m posting it to be held accountable for getting better.
Being aware of my shortcomings is necessary, but it’s also meaningless unless I try to fix them.
Not for my sake, but for my kids’.