I am a father of a four year old boy (and a one year old daughter). My biggest fear for him is that he will not become successful.
Not in the sense of how society has coined the word, but in the sense of being a human being. Living a happy, joyful and healthy life.
My fear is that I am not paving a path or laying a foundation for him to live and be his authentic self, regardless of his surroundings. This, for me, is the definition of success. To be human, how we were intended to be.
The question isn’t so much “Are you parenting the right way? as it is: “Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?” – Brene Brown
Part of this foundation, or parenting if you will, is being authentic myself; both my wife and I leading authentic lives.
It’s an effort we are mindful of daily, but is also something that gets left behind.
What this includes is being open and honest with ourselves and with those around us. It’s owning our flaws and not hiding them from our son.
In other words, if we want our son to love and accept who he is, our job as his parents is to love and accept who we are first. We can’t live one way and teach the other. Compassion and connection can only be learned if they are experienced.
Discussing my flaws with my son.
I apologize how I overreacted and tell him how I am working on fixing that. I tell him it’s a flaw of mine that I am not proud of and that it takes a lot of work and effort in fixing. I let him know it’s something, that when being mindful of and fixing, will make me a happier person.
I tell him these things in the car, tucking him in at night or moments after I’ve reacted in a way where I feel the need to apologize.
Since reading Daring Greatly, I find myself having these conversations with him. He doesn’t really know what they mean yet, but it’s practice for me for when he does begin to comprehend them.
I want him to know that I am not perfect, that there’s no such thing as perfect.
Human beings make mistakes. Human beings learn and grow from these experiences and adversity.
I don’t know everything and I can’t do everything. But dog on it I am going to always give it my best. Whether it’s at something I’ve failed at or if it’s at fixing my flaws or if it’s facing a fear head on.
The best teaching moments happen during those imperfect moments of vulnerability and honesty. Tweet this
I want him to express his feelings. Not hide them away allowing them to fester inside.
I want him to experience vulnerability from me to make him feel comfortable in being vulnerable himself. To be honest and open with himself, his family and others.
I want him to know that living an authentic life through vulnerability and honesty exposes the truth within him. Through that truth a life of purpose and meaning can be lived.
At the end of the day, I don’t want him to see me in any other way other than who I Am; his father, human. One who makes mistakes, has flaws and embraces imperfection.
One who works to fix each of those things, day in and day out in order to give his best self to others.
I don’t want to impress him with all the things I can do or know, or all of the things he thinks I can do or know, but instead, impress him on a human level so that we can have a human-to-human relationship; a bond.
I don’t want to hide my flaws from him or pretend I can do it all illuminating this false sense of perfection.
I am my most authentic self. I learn and grow every single day through intentional efforts and behaviors.
This evolution of living authentically as a family solidifies a bond that’s hard to break. The relationship and connection deepens, it then transcends out into other meaningful relationships and experiences.
This is what I am mindful of, daily, it’s also the biggest fear I have as a parent. Not being able to lay that foundation for him, to create an environment where it’s okay to share stories of both struggle and strength.
We work on this not by preaching, but by Being. I want my son to lead an authentic life through vulnerability.
So together, as a family, we practice vulnerability.
Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll