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‘Tis Perfect To Be An Imperfect Dad

By Martin Wilson

Nagging self-doubts about the sort of father you are maybe quite common. But there are no perfect fathers thinks Martin Wilson.

I attended a wedding recently. I recall the close and loving relationship between father and bride. They were almost opposites.

He quiet and considered but personable. She, not so quieti in fact, exuberant, high spirited and full of heart.

I also recall Dad’s doubt. Doubt whether he had been the perfect Dad.

He told the guests of one of his regrets as a Dad. Of not having spent enough ‘quality’ time with his daughter (or son) because of work and other commitments. That was one of the most essential things fora Dad to give to his children: ‘Quality time’.

What struck me most was not to be reminded of the importance of spending quality time with our children but rather that here was another Dad berating himself – in a small way – for not being a super duper Dad.

And so, I thought, do most Dads. But L-5 it really all that important to be the perfect Dad? I think not.

Before I became a Dad I wanted to be that perfect model father. But I am not. And I am glad about that.
Like so much in life reality does not match the theory, nor the vision.

Dad has a huge workload, financial commitments, many dependents and, ideally, his own life and interests to enjoy.

Dad does from time to time get grumpy, fails to set an example, to deliver on his promises or just is away from home far too often. Its remarkable though that despite the imperfect role model, Dad (and obviously Muni) still raise very lovable and capable children.

Maybe there is something to be said for Dad being two black holes short of a star. Many parents observe how the child in their family with higher self-esteem is often the child left more to his or her own devices. Who receives a little less attention.

Who is mollycoddled less. But who emerges more resourceful, sociable and content.

American sitcoms have popularised the clown of a Dad. Your Bill Cosby bumbler. Dad is an object of some ridicule. Yet how many children would love to have Bill Cosby fora Dad.

The point is -,for me at least – to do your best. You can’t be the Perfect Parent. Maybe just Father Fantastic.

Perhaps what our children need from Dad is appropriate and not too irregular doses of:

  • Dad, and quality time
  • Dad, who shares with them, but who remains their Dad not their big mate
  • Dad, the child, not just ‘Dad on high’
  • Dad, loving and nurturing
  • Dad, who sets boundaries
  • Dad, who supports and acts consistently with Mum whatever their circumstances

Of course there are a whole host of other needs children have of Dad (and Mum). The list is long.
Meeting its requirements is exacting. In theory it is possible to be the perfect Dad.

But, the reality is another story. Reality is that children do not need a perfect Dad. As our father and bride illustrate, perfectly, an imperfect Dad is just perfect.

Here’s an illustration of how this Dad learnt a bit more about being a Dad from a situation that seemed imperfect at first. He took his 6 year old boy tramping. After a night in a hut (described by the Department of Conservation as ‘historic’ and his son as far from cosy’) they headed home.

The first hour of the 3 hour return trip was uphill and muddy. Twenty minutes into it the bey was fed up. He wouldn’t move. Dad, the rational male, gave him a gentle lecture.

‘This is the only way out, chum. The rescue helicopter service is not an option’. A grimace grew. Budge, he would not. And so emerged Plan B. Dad walked on. Sonny Jim would _follow. The deep quiet of the bush was broken by Sonny Jim. ‘I’m not walking up your stupid hill’.

Dad, by this stage, was getting a little fraught. A tad grumpy. He paused. To think about things. Back he walked to the Grimace. The Grump sat down beside the Grimace, picked him up, sat him on his knee and gave him a big, long hug.

Neither spoke. Ten minutes later Dad (no longer the Grump) stood up. Took a pace or two. The Grimace, fighting back a grin, gave a little grunt and then he trotted… well, trudged… tip that stupid hill with his Dad.

A perfect lesson for an imperfect Dad. A perfect moment for both.

Next: The Poo And Pee Comedy Show

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