As a kid who grew up in a small town, I found very few ways to express myself…outside of sports.
I went to school, helped out with our livestock, and played baseball.
It wasn’t a bad life, but as I’ve gotten older there are so many things that I wish I’d found early on.
My passion in the written word for instance. Maybe a hidden talent for playing guitar or a knack for creating visual art.
You see, although I could hold my own on the ball field, I was never going to clear the bases at Fenway. Our high school field gave me all the trouble I could handle in that respect.
Unfortunately, in order to tap in to your “sweet spot” as a kid (pardon the baseball analogy), you need a lot of guidance from those around you.
The type of guidance that a stellar single mom would find difficult handle alone.
However, there is something beautiful that takes place when your discoveries happen later in life. And it happens with the birth of that first child.
Turning the Page…Dad Style
Aside from teaching…and performing the occasional wet-willie, dads have the heavy task of becoming master observers.
We’re akin to a good guard dog that’s constantly watching…assessing…understanding our surroundings.
With diligence we notice that one of our kid’s is constantly performing, while the other immediately starts to move to the beat of the song on the radio.
A kind of investigator that can pick out our kids’ passions and abilities.
Practically speaking, it means that I need to pay attention to my girls and their activities. Without this, I wouldn’t have noticed the strong kicks in the pool, the enthusiasm and power in gymnastics, or the pure joy and passion for dance.
I can now take notice of the things that captivate them…help them assess their ability in them…and then stand behind them and cheer until my voice gives out.
Living with Them, not Through Them
There is a real danger in parenting from a place of regret however.
We could very easily begin to live life through our kids instead of living life with them.
By all means, assess your experiences and make changes as you see fit. But the point is to give your kid’s an opportunity that you didn’t have, not to relive your youth.
You want them to find their “thing” not be forced to succeed in yours.
The fact that you may be discovering some things late in life might actually be an awesome learning experience for them.
Who better to show them how important perseverance is?
Invest, don’t Reinvent
These tactics are really common sense. They simply require an investment of time and energy.
Other than some focus, and a little attention to detail, dads need not reinvent themselves to succeed here.
Just remember your struggles and frustrations…then help your kids navigate through them.
You can be assured that their lives will be enriched in the process…and so will yours!