It’s time! It’s time to discuss the elephant in the room: I suck as a dad. I drop the ball, miss opportunities, make messes, let my guard down, take shortcuts, burn bridges, push people away, set a bad example, fail to do the right thing, hurt those I care about- I have been a less than stellar dad sometimes. Can you relate? I wish I could say that my time as a therapist, a mentor, and a father has smoothed out all my rough edges, but they haven’t. I, like so many other dads, have a lot of room to grow. I hope this is an encouragement to you. I want you to know that we are all working to be the best dads that we can be. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again- there is no such thing as a perfect father. That’s why I want to be a little extra vulnerable this week and share some of my weaknesses as a father with you. This isn’t about self-deprecation. I have had victories too- and plenty of opportunities to share them with you. But, this week I’m talking about the stuff I like to hide in a closet or sweep under a rug. It’s time you see the side of me that sucks!
#1. I am a hypocrite
I would love for my kids to be kind to each other, clean their rooms, and respect boundaries. But, I don’t always do a great job of modeling this kind of behavior. I hate when the kids call me out on it: “you don’t follow the rules,” “you didn’t pick up your clothes,” or “you don’t say sorry when you interrupt us.” They never miss an opportunity to throw it right back at me. And they are right. There is no excuse for expecting them to do things that I don’t do myself. At least, I should have some level of empathy toward them when they mess up. I wish I could say that I am understanding- not all the time.
#2. I don’t exercise
You know that post I wrote about exercising. Well, I inspired myself for three days, and then I stopped. I haven’t picked it back up. I am so out of shape it’s beyond embarrassing. In high school, I ran three miles a day with a pack full of weights on my back. These days, I am out of breath just walking a flight of stairs. All those benefits that I shared that you would receive if you started an exercise routine I am not experiencing myself. I don’t have a very active workday either. I am hurting myself by living such a sedimentary life. If I don’t make changes then I am going to pay sooner or later.
#3. I lose my patience
I am at my weakest at night, when I try to get the kids to bed. It’s like I turn into a monster when the moon comes out. I am mean some nights! I ignore my kid’s requests, snap at them, and quickly start dealing out the consequences. When I having these kinds of nights, my actions have nothing to do with disciplining. I’m just being a selfish jerk. Sometimes I wonder if my kids will think that I am bi-polar. I can be super patient and understanding one moment, and then downright hostile the next. Poor kids!
#4. I am manipulative
I know how to get what I want. I have a talent for using my words to confuse and disarm others. One thing that I often do is flip guilt onto my wife. When she has a very valid reason for feeling hurt, I can play the victim and convince her that she is the cause of an offense. I also like to throw my wife off of my real motives for doing things. Did she think that I washed the dishes and read to the kids out of love? Sike, I just wanted her to give me some time to myself this evening. Or, maybe I was just feeling unworthy and wanted her to see me as a “catch.” You get the idea.
#5. I place way too much value on material possessions
I have a man cave. My man cave is like a shrine to all the material possessions that I obsess over. I have poured thousands of dollars into Magic cards, comic books, electronics, Nerf guns (yeah, kid toys), and board games. I have fears that one day that room will catch on fire and the little empire I have built for myself will be burnt away. Or perhaps the kids will come in and go on a destructive spree. These fears have led me to be very protective of my junk. My man cave is the only area where we still have a baby gate. I can tell you every time something is moved out of place. I am a fool for putting value in something that could disappear overnight. I get caught up in the draw of consumerism much too easily.
#6. I am a terrible friend (and son)
Ask any of my friends or my parents- I am hard to get ahold of. There will be days and even weeks before I return a missed phone call. I probably call my parents once every two months. Some of my friends haven’t heard from me in over half a year. When I am with my friends, I hardly remember any of the important stuff. It’s gotten so bad that I have to ask my wife the names of my friends’ kids before I get to their house. I am constantly trying to play catch up on things that everyone else already knows. “Oh, you were in a car accident a few weeks ago, you bought a house 7 months ago, and you went back to school last year. I didn’t know.” Ouch!
#7. I get carried away often
I have this personality trait that leads me to go all-in when I am driven to do something. I have a sprinter’s mentality. You can count on me for immediate, passionate results. But you can also count on a lot of burnout afterward. My quick-burning passion has been known to lead me to impulsive buying and irrational behavior. This can put heavy stress on my family. When I burn myself out, I often leave my wife hanging. In the same vein, I can become so stressed out about things that I make myself sick, which can leave me bedridden. My wife must constantly tell me to pace myself and keep a realistic perspective on things.
#8. I have a lot of pride
I love it when people sing my praises. I will go way out of my way, and to my shame, to be noticed by others. In conversation, I often steal the spotlight. I become angry when I don’t think that my wife thinks as highly of me as I do. I would rather spend time talking about my day, my opinions, my passions than listen to hers. Ironically, my wife leads a much more interesting life than I do, but I couldn’t spare a moment of my time to be a part of it. It’s hard to see others when you are staring in a mirror all day long. I’m not even sure what I have to be proud about. It’s not like I have anything to be proud about- I am an everyday man from an everyday town doing everyday things every day. I need a reality check.
#9. I let people push me around
I have the backbone of a scoliotic worm. Unless it comes to matters of the faith, I am easy to sway. All you have to do is tell me you disagree or I hurt your feelings and I will take back everything I said. No one can trust what I say because I don’t have enough trust to stick to it. I do believe that there is a correlation between my pridefulness and my lack of respect for myself. It has been my experience that people who don’t think highly of themselves are usually their own loudest advocates. I’m actually making myself sick thinking about who little courage I show when faced with conflict.
#10. I waste valuable time
Sometimes I think I am doing it intentionally. If I were to guess, I would say that I am trying to mask fears of failure when an opportunity arises by focusing my attention on trivial pursuits. “I could be making real changes in my life today, but instead, I think I will watch a movie. Heck, let’s make it a movie I don’t even like. In fact, let’s make it reviews of a movie I don’t even like. That’s a better use of my time.” – Me. If I don’t make a change, then by the time I am 40, I am going to have a huge pile of junk and a photo album full of pictures of me sitting on a couch. If I wrote a book about my life I doubt anyone would want to read it. What a waste!
So, now you have seen a glimpse of my dark side. I ask again- can you relate? It is not my intention to write week after week to lead men toward an unrealistic, unattainable path toward fatherhood. I want you to see that we are in this fight together. I know my faults. I know some areas that I can grow in. Every Rock Solid Father is taking the journey. Each day brings new challenges for us all. I am not willing to sit in content and let the worst of me remain. Having all the answers or doing the right thing every time isn’t what makes me Rock Solid. Instead, I want to grow and I want to teach others to do the same. That’s what makes me a Rock Solid Dad. Will you be Rock Solid with me? Can you embrace your faults and strive to be a better man each day? At least, for the week, this is my challenge for you.
Stay Rock Solid Dads.
Brian Faust is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator of Rock Solid Fatherhood in Warsaw, IN. He is the husband of the world’s best wife and father of three beautiful girls. He has nearly a decade of mentorship and mental health experience. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College. It is his desire to come alongside men of all walks of life as they embrace their role as partner and father with rock solid strength.