It is every parents desire for their children to become better than they were. Parents spend years shaping, influencing, guiding, and investing in their children's lives hoping that one day they will become the shining example of what they themselves have accomplished or failed to accomplish.
We as parents never once think about how our children shape us into the parents that they want us to be. Yes, our children manipulated us through their innocence and lack of experiences often sending many parents into a tailspin of confusion and self doubt.
My experience with my own children has been one of self incite and re-education. There is no instruction manual on how to raise a child. And although many of us have the foundations given to us by our own parents, many more don't have that as so many in our culture have grown up with only one or no parents at all.
I was very fortunate to have both my parents. Although everyday wasn't rosie, life was fairly stable for most of my growing years. My dad was a self made man and my mother was a homemaker. Dad was a strict disciplinarian with a rigid and unbending style to parenting while mom was nurturing and sometimes fragile. She was the sunshine and Dad was the Thunder and Lightning. I learned not only what kind of father I wanted to be, but also the kind I didn't want to be.
I didn't want my kids to grow up in fear as I did with my own father. I wanted them to respect me though so I made it my mission to always be active in their lives even though their mother and I divorced and the children lived with her. I wasn't always an easy task being Dad from a far but I never let that be a roadblock to my being active in their lives. They always knew who Dad was and knew that I would be there at a moments notice no matter where I was in the world or what was going on in life.
My children are my greatest achievement and absolutely my most cherished. They more than anything have made me the man I am today, highly structured, disciplined, and focused on growth. I've always taught my kids to be themselves and not what I wanted them to be. I'm so proud that now they are all grown and doing fairly well in their own lives even though I'm not happy with every choice they've made I'm glad that they are not afraid to live life on their own terms.
They carry the best and the worst of both their mother and me of course but they are each very independent, strong willed, and determined to be themselves regardless of what anyone else thinks. They still have much more to learn in life but I am confident that they will be just fine. To all the Fathers out there, make sure that you are there for you children. Being a Father isn't about being an ATM either. Just because you provide money doesn't make you a Father. Don't let yourself be shaped by a corrupt child support system if you happen to be caught up. Throw away all the ill will you may have for their mother and focus yourself on just being Dad.
Your children are a direct reflection of you. Want to see the best picture of yourself? Just look at your children.