This past weekend, I spanked my son, which is one of only a few times over the course of his young life. It broke his heart, and mine even more. I lost sleep over it that night, woke up with it on my mind, and have thought about it many times since. I desperately wish I could have taken it back. He was over it a few minutes later, which adds to the many lessons I have learned being my son’s first time father. He didn’t hold a grudge, and later that night told me how much he loved me. He still smiles when I tell him he’s my hero; he is.
Like so many Dads, I only see my kids every other weekend, alternating holidays, and during the summer. I’m very sensitive to the time we have together being quality time, free of distractions, or worse, constant entertainment. We play outside, ride our bikes, go to the park, watch movies at home, and whatever else that allows us to engage as a family. However, I’m likely more lenient than I would be if the kids lived with us full time. I know how important discipline is, but don’t want our entire weekend to be full of timeouts, which wouldn’t be hard. We try to be as consistent as possible, but avoid spankings nearly altogether. I never want my children to be afraid of me. I was on the receiving end of a few spankings growing up, one of which still haunts me. I don’t harbor resentment, but wish I could have been there as an adult to protect the younger version of me. When I have spanked either of my kids, I’m reminded of how I felt at five years old.
Parenting is the most difficult responsibility I have experienced thus far, and the most rewarding. As my journey continues, I am hopeful that I become the man my son wants to be. Strong, meak, humble, loving, generous, and kind. I often feel as if none of those words describe me, but I’m thankful for a child’s grace.
I’m thankful to be part of a generation of fathers who desire to be more than bread winners, but instead, available, interested, engaged, and who most of all put family first. We are raising more than men; we are raising fathers.