Negative Impact

Despite the fact that I’m more likely to classify myself as a realist, most people would probably say otherwise.

They consider me a pessimist, especially people who don’t know me well, or don’t share my sense of humor, and a cynic. Which is fine. I turn 40 this year, I’ve long stopped worrying about other people’s misconceptions.

But I do worry about how my children see me. And about the potential negative impact my personality might have on them.

I actually enjoy my cynicism. In fact, I’m probably too upbeat about being downbeat to be an official pessimist. It’s fun to be negative! dad and buried, mike julianelle, daddy bloggers, dad bloggers, mommy bloggers, hangover, funny, parenting, parenthood, humor, dads, moms, mothers, fathers, fatherhood, tired, exhausted, pessimism, negativity, kids, children, family, life, personality, genes

At least it was, before I became a father.

When Mom and Buried got pregnant, I vowed – we both vowed – that parenting wouldn’t change us. We weren’t naive; we knew it would, in ways both big and small. But we also wanted to be wary of how much, to protect certain aspects of our lives and our personalities against the atrophy we saw befalling so many of our newly-minted parent friends.

So many parents let their parenthood redefine them, and let it erase the person they were. I was uncharacteristically optimistic that it wouldn’t happen to me. I would still be the guy who found humor in misfortune, the guy more quick to see the downside than the silver lining, the jerk more likely to criticize than to praise. (But, ya know, in a fun way!)

I’ve managed, I think, but not without some compromise.

Once you realize that every choice you make has the potential to impact the tiny, impressionable versions of yourself that you’ve spent your life waiting for (without even realizing you were waiting), you can’t stubbornly cling to things that might affect them detrimentally, no matter how adamant you once were about hanging on to those things. It’s called growing up.

A few years ago, I worried that I’d have nothing to pass down to my kids. Now, as I watch my five-year-old exhibit signs of my personality, I worry that I’ve passed down the wrong stuff. The last thing I want to do is be responsible for my kids seeing the world in a negative light, or for them to grow up thinking their dad is a curmudgeon and a misanthrope.

When an adult doesn’t catch my sarcasm, I shrug it off as their loss. When a child doesn’t understand that the horrid thing I said was meant to be sardonic and not taken literally, it might have a negative impact on their opinion of me. When that child is one of my own sons? It might impact their opinion of the world, and that’s the last thing I want.

My outlook on the world hasn’t changed, not immensely. Again, I’m too old, and I’ve lived too much, to suddenly start looking on the bright side of life. But having children has not only helped brighten my view of things – it’s hard not to occasionally be taken in by their unadulterated enthusiasm for everything – it has also given me a different awareness, a different perspective on my perspective. With great power comes great responsibility.fatherhood, dads, kids change everything, perspective, drinking, parenting, dad and buried, funny, humor, dad bloggers, mommy bloggers, motherhood, fatherhood, winter, stress, kids, family, entertainment, boredom, fun, mike julianelle, dads, moms, children

I won’t mind if my children grow up to be cynical and sarcastic like their father – it’s worked out fine for me! – I just don’t want to be the reason they do. I want each of my sons to start with as blank a slate as possible, to enter into every experience with the same untainted, blissfully ignorant innocent view they naturally have, before the world – and people like me – imposes itself.

Again, I’m a realist; my children are probably going to end up like me, whether they like it or not. I’d just prefer that they come upon their worldview independently, as free from my corrupting influence as possible!

I want them to earn their negativity by living, not to obtain it by the arbitrary circumstances of their births. I want them to have every chance at being happy-go-lucky optimists who skip through life without a trace of melancholy, cynicism, self-consciousness, or doubt.

Obviously, being who I am, I have a hard time seeing it happen. But I’m trying to be optimistic about it.

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12 thoughts on “Negative Impact

  1. I’m an avid optimist, but with a strong streak of realism. However, I appreciate the balance your cynicism brings to the table. You write what I think quite often and your candor is refreshing. Kids are shitty a lot of the time.

    All dads struggle with passing down our jaded views of life and how the world works without breaking the innocence and joy of our children.

    I think you’re self-awareness will pay off. Keep up the good work.

  2. I am the cynical, pessimist in my family. In actual fact it is my husband who he the happy go lucky type and my first born is literally a ray of sunshine. I sometimes look at him and cannot believe I could produce such a joyous little human. He has made me want to try and be a more positive person. As such I finally siezed the day and started my first blog this week. I am reading other posts for inspiration but also to ask for some honest opinions. I’d love it if you might read my blog and be honest about if it’s okay. My husband says he likes the 3rd person narrative but he always says nice things. I don’t know whether to carry on like this or revert to 1st person like so many other bloggers do. I’ve tried writing a blog and kept chickening out. Then this Tuesday I started writing in 3rd person and it just felt safer for me to publish. It was a big strep for me but I’m not sure if first person wouldn’t be better now I have a tiny bit of self-confidence.

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