Celebrating Dad on Father's Day and Everyday

Fathers become "Dad" one day at a time. You go as you and your kids grow.
Eric Payne
Content & Storytelling at theCut, Editor in Chief of STAMPED.

Some mornings I wake up and think I don't know anything!

Being an adult means I'm in charge. I have to get myself up. I have to get my youngest up for school. Then I have to manage everything expected and unexpected from the time I open my eyes to the time I close them again to do it all over again the next day. I marvel at how I got here. In the late Eighties, my parents constantly told me what to do, and I was begging them to drive. I hated not being in control, but I find myself missing the good ole days when most if not all, my moves were handled by someone else. 

The Biggest Job I Have is Being Dad

It has the most responsibilities and the most significant consequences. Sometimes I wonder what convinced me to believe I could take on this job when there are moments when I struggle to make sense of it all for myself — things like my purpose, whether I am doing enough, and forgiving myself for past mistakes. I often feel like I'm in the hot seat — I'm a single father to a teenage daughter doing my best to help her navigate a world that puts more pressure on teens than at any time prior. As Dad, I sometimes wonder how in the world did my father seem so confident when he was raising me? 

My dad was old school, and his father was harder on him than he was on me, so my best guess is he faked it til he made it. What I've learned, walking a similar journey to his as a father, but charting my own path as Dad is that experience is the Great Teacher. 

Everyone is different. Some men may have the gift of eloquence to easily communicate with their kids. Some might have resources to provide in ways that others might not. Some may be better able to lay down the law and not be concerned with how their kids feel about them. Some may have the gift of playfulness and be the life of the party in the eyes of their families. Whatever everyone brings to the table as Dad, everyone has one thing in common: they learn as they go and as they and their children grow. 

Steer Clear of the Comparison Trap

Experience, not expertise out the gate, is what makes fathers "Dad." The father I was seven years ago or even last year is not the father I am today. It's all a winding race that each and every one of us is individually on. There is no competition, just us other dads running alongside you, behind you, or ahead of you on our separate timelines and journeys. There are peaks, and there are valleys, and it is all beautiful but ultimately temporary. Because sooner rather than later, it all ends. The kids move out, hopefully, and although you never stop being a parent, your time raising them does come to an end.

So Dads, don't be dismayed when you're confused, worried, or stressed out. You aren't alone, and no matter how good that father over there may appear they've had their fair share of challenges, or they will. Celebrate, support, and encourage the Dads around you, but don't ever compare yourself to them unless it's simply to take notes to incorporate tactics into your own game plan. Reach out to the dad who seems like he has it all together and ask for advice or mentorship. I'll bet money you'll be pleasantly surprised to find out you have more in common than not. Many times people with great outlooks on life faced not so great experiences along the way. If you can't connect in person with other fathers, no worries, there are plenty of dad blogs and fatherhood-based social media accounts that freely and transparently provide guidance and inspiration. 

Kids Want Consistency, Not Perfection 

It's okay if you don't get it right every time, and it's perfectly fine to question yourself along the way. What your kids appreciate most, even during the rough patches — especially those teenage years, is you being there for them as a guide and support in their lives. 

Live, love, learn, keep going, and keep growing. 

Portions of article courtesy Eric Payne and MakesMeWannaHoller.com