In response to your many requests… today I offer you another letter from Bubba.
For those new to Momastery, please read this introduction to my father first.
This letter is a reflection on the conversation between Craig and my dad after Craig and I, unwed, told my parents that we were pregnant. It’s a passing down of the keys of fatherhood from father to son in law, from man to man.
You are receiving my annual Christmas letter to Glennon. This year, I decided to write it to you because I think it is important that important things get said, particularly between men. For guys, thoughts about friendship, admiration, thankfulness, and even love just don’t get on the radar screen much less on the table until regret finds it is too late to say what should have been and could have been said. Things don’t get said because of a time honored ban among men about sharing anything that is not couched in sarcasm. In some venues I adhere to and even support this ban. In others, the important ones, I don’t. So I have a few things to say and this seems a good time to say them. These Christmas letters to my daughters tend to be a little sappy. I’ll try to avoid that pitfall but might not. Since you are now reading this that has become your problem. (That was man to man sarcasm.)
About three years ago you and I sat in the Burke house and discussed your future. During that discussion I shared my thoughts, as best I could, about the decisions before you. They were life altering ones that you had not bargained for, much less prepared for. When you left, because I knew little about you, I had no idea what direction you might take. And to be truthful, because I didn’t know you well, I didn’t know what direction you should take. But the decision you have taken is clearly one I have observed and evaluated. So here is your three year evaluation.
First, the direction you took, by its very nature indicates that you have character and courage and faith in yourself. When confronted with adversity every man has a dual reaction choice. Fight or flight. For most, flight is both an instinct and an inclination. Flight contains the hope of escape or at least a retreat and reprieve from the threat. You did not choose flight. You chose to stand and face your future. It was a good choice for you since it appears you fit your future well. You may not see yourself as a fighter, but you are not a runner.
Second, the future for which you have taken a stand appears to be a bright one. Your son, who is loving, positive, bright, and endearing reflects everything you give him, every day. Your fathering intuitions are strong and your skills in dealing with, nurturing, and directing your son grow week by week. Your wife exudes confidence in you and is content, secure, and very much in love. It is obvious that she depends on you, leans on you, and admires you. My wife adores you. (The word “adores” is not one that is in the lexicon of most males, certainly not in mine. It is my wife’s word.) And I trust you. I see your children, however many there might be, as among the lucky bunch who have a father who has decided to make them the center of his life and who does so selflessly and with a sense of joy. This is less common than you may think.
Thirdly, every man I ever admired was a good father. Because of your nature you will likely find yourself doing the same. Even in your professional life the men you trust most will turn out to be strong fathers. Commitment to honest work, to integrity, to charity, and even to friendship is all centered in the family. Everything moves out from that center. The farther it is from that center the less important it becomes. Where I live I am surrounded by eminently successful men who commanded enormous salaries and enjoyed great power. But many are now confused at their adult children’s lack of direction or lack of work ethic or even lack of values and integrity. Those children were the audience that watched their fathers move farther and farther from the family center as they were seduced by money and power and prestige and pressure or by any of the other things that cause men to lose their way. As they became lost so did their children and as a result those children turned to somebody else to raise them. Make no mistake, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a father who is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure his children know him, know what he stands for and know that they can count on him without equivocation and at anytime. From what I have seen I think you are ready to join that elite group.
Any evaluation that is meaningful contains suggestions and constructive criticisms. The following are intended to be useful, not instructive.
Areas for growth and improvement:
1. 1 1. Do not assume that your natural child rearing talents will carry the day. You would never consider pursuing your career without a passion to succeed, or without exposure to successful role models and techniques. The same is true for parenting, which is the most important job you will ever have. You may have a natural talent for it, but to be a successful parent you can’t rely on your intuitions and energy alone. You must expose yourself to the important body of knowledge that has been developed over centuries of study. You cannot and should not, under any circumstances, defer to your wife as the sole arbitrator on child rearing. That is not fair to her, yourself, or the children. She and the children need you to be a knowledgeable and confident father. Making bonds with your children through good times is the fun stuff, the easy stuff. If you want to be a great father, seek and find books, seminars, and other resources. Use them to increase your knowledge and confidence particularly in the areas of setting limits, consistency, and fairness. This takes time and energy. Your profession will not provide you with time or energy. The opposite will be true. You will have to do it on your own. That is part of the sacrifice of being a good father. Ironically, you will find that it is amazing how the skills you acquire as a parent spill over and enhance your professional efforts. Your job is to establish their roots while developing their wings.
2. 2 2.Try to overcome the tendency to paint around hardware on doors and windows.
And for those of you who were raised without a father like Bubba, or who are raising your babies without one…please stop back by Momastery tomorrow morning for the juiciest slice of hope I’ve ever tasted.