“I’m not here to be your friend, I’m here to be your parent.”
That statement has never really sat well with me. I get the thought behind the idea, but I’ve always felt that being an effective parent requires staying relevant in a child’s life beyond drill sargeant and enforcer. I try very hard at being both . . . . Parent and friend.
I have always considered bear hugs as a litmus for gauging how I’m doing with my balancing act between drill sargeant and friend.
I frequently attack my girls with hugs, like a bear mauling an unfortunate victim. Only my girls don’t fight like the victim of a bear attack might. In fact, they hug back. I figure if my ambush hugs don’t result in them vomitting or punching me in the face, They must not think that my being their dad is all that repulsive yet.
But like I said, my girls hug back, and we wrestle (they don’t get a free pass on me hurling them to ground just because they are girls . . . Although the older I get and the stronger they get, it is not always I who does the hurling) and it is not uncommon for me to have one of them leaning on me while watching a movie . . . . Sometimes its both girls plus all variety of domesticated beast that mistakingly thinks that my affection for my girls automatically applies to their flea bitten carcasses as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to suggest that my parenting or there teenagering is anywhere near perfect. We argue, disrespect and throw tantrums with a ferocity that would make even Dr. Phil blush. That’s where the “I’m sorry” comes into play. . . . Not just my kids being forced to say it to me, but me saying it to them as well.
You are a fool as a parent if you think that you never let your temper get the best of you, or minimize something that is very important to your child, and even get so busy that you ignore their concerns altogether. I’m not perfect, and my girls know that.
So when I act like I’m never in the wrong as their dad, yet they know I am not perfect, I lose credibility with them. I’m not afraid to tell them, “I’m sorry, I over-reacted,” or “I should have listened to you instead of cutting you off.
My relationship with my girls could take a turn for the worse tomorrow. I don’t have all the answers. . . Sometimes I feel like I don’t have any. But as long as I’m alive, I will not hold back on giving my girls bear hugs and I’m sorrys.