Father of Caleb
Failure is not only an option; sometimes it’s a likely outcome.
I was that kid that succeeded at everything and it became the expectation for everyone around me. I had a pretty good childhood. I come from a middle-class family and a loving home. I was a smart kid that didn’t have to try hard in school to get good grades. I was athletic and did well in most sports. My family had enough money to give me everything I needed and many of the things I wanted. I knew my biological father and I had a stepfather. I always knew I was far more blessed than others.
It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I didn’t really know either of my fathers. I was in my mid-twenties and things weren’t working out in my life the way I thought they should. I was in a bad relationship, I didn’t know which way was up professionally, I had very little money and I really didn’t know what my next move was going to be. I had a conversation with another friend that was experiencing similar feelings and we both concluded we needed a mentor, a roadmap, something….anything!
I was in my mid-twenties and I didn’t know how to overcome failure.
I was a young adult and things that were in front of me as a child started to make more sense. I realized that both of my fathers were flawed men. They never discussed their failures and how they had fallen short of their own expectations or the expectations of others. They never told me the stories of their failed businesses, professional failures, failed relationships, failures as parents and struggles with substance abuse. They never allowed me to see those flaws. They never let me know that failure happens and that life goes on. It took me several years to learn these lessons when I could have been raised with them.
I don’t blame my fathers for this, I recognize that they are both good men and I appreciate them for the men that they are. I know that I could have benefited from knowing them better, not just the good stuff, but most of the bad. Knowing their experiences could have helped me avoid a few pitfalls or given me a model to navigate out of them.
It's natural to want to be Superman in your child’s eyes. There are absolutely times when it’s great for a child to have confidence in their father. It’s also important to be vulnerable in front of your child. Feelings of fear, sadness, and disappointment in oneself are all things we will inevitably experience. Our children will fail. You can be the model for them to deal with those failures.