“You have to be like Superman for your kids” This is what my Uncle told me once when we were talking about how to raise kids. It was his advice to me. He meant well. He was being supportive and encouraging. The advice also meant that I needed to be strong, capable and be like a hero to my kids. Not so bad…or is it?
My first thought was, “that’s going to be pretty hard” After all, sometimes I’m not strong, sometimes I goof up, and sometimes I need help. Didn’t sound very hero-like to me. Alas, superman, I am not. I suppose I could have faked it. I Imagined myself walking around, chest out, chin up. “Everything is okay. It’s always okay. I can handle it all. The whole world could rest on these shoulders…”
I don’t think I would have been the first Dad to act like this. But why? Why are we doing this? Why are Dads putting on this show, especially for their sons?” The logic seemed shady. The motives hinted at insecurity. No one is Superman. So? Who pretends to be something they are not? Someone who doesn’t feel okay with who he is…is all I could come up with. And that is sad. It’s a hard row to hoe living a life of pretend. Things never feel quite right.
Well I’m here to tell you. There is a gigantic strength in being exactly who you are. Holding up an artifice is tiring anyway. Facades will eventually break down, crumble, and leave mess and confusion in their wake. Being authentic actually frees you. When we are honest we are strong. When we are strong we can do great things… things that were meant for us.
I’m not sure when this Hero-Dad style of parenting began, but it’s got to go.
Authentic is the new strong. Truth is your new super power. If you aren’t feeling confident, that’s okay. If you need help, ask for it. If you are scared of something, say so. It will free you from the facade and provide your children with a real model to learn from.
And you will be rewarded… not just with some short-lived awe and admiration that you managed to coax out of a small child, but an enduring sense of love and trust from your kids and those around you. And that stuff is the real deal.
“You have to be strong, be their hero” “Never let them see you sweat (or cry).” Bullshit.
I’m not going to live in this land of smoke and mirrors so my son could have a couple years viewing me as a hero without flaws. This is the old paradigm anyway. Time to move on. Perfect parents, man of steel dads don’t exist.
Be real. Be vulnerable. Be you.