In my very first Sociology class, my brilliant professor asked me a question when I said that I had two children during the obligatory class introductions. “Are you a good father?” she innocently asked, but in a way that I immediately knew there was much more to the question that she posed. I replied, “The only people that can really answer that question are my wife and kids.” Later, Dr. Lewis told me that my answer was full of wisdom. What was funny was that I did not even know where that wisdom came from in me. Yet as I get older, my kids grow, and my wedding anniversaries run like a car odometer, I understand that she was the wise one, as her question was like one that Jesus would ask. It illuminates more to the person answering the question than the person asking.
As dad’s, how do we measure our success? In the workforce, your employer’s performance review may ask you how well you think you performed in the last year. Yet ultimately, your success is defined by them, not you (from an external locus of control point-of-view). If you define your success as most do, by receiving a pay increase, bonus, or some other reward, is that the most accurate reflection of your success with the company? Conversely many Dad’s define success on their own terms or so they think. These terms tend to reflect societies expectations or norms and include, “I’m a good provider” or “I am at home with my family when most men aren’t” and even, “I’m here to set them straight and teach them how hard this world is.” Soon we’ll look closer at why these definitions are lacking and leave our families and even us men who say this, wanting more.
Until then, dad, how do you define success with your family? Does the end justify the means in your worldview? Do you feel that if your kids stay out of trouble and get good grades, then you must be doing something right? Would your wife and children say you are a good father or do you say and think they would say that you are a good dad?