I came across this passage from James Hollis’ book, Living an Examined Life. Coming off the heels of Father’s Day I’ve been thinking about what kind of father I am. There have been countless books written on parenting and there’s no shortage of advice on how to be an effective teacher to our kids. Yet most days I think many of us feel like we are failing. I loved his advice, simple yet profound:

“One thing parents can do for their children is live their lives as fully as they can, for this will open the children’s imagination, grant permission to them to have their own journey, and open the doors of possibility for them. Wherever we are stuck, they will have a tendency to be stuck also or will spend their life trying to overcompensate. Living our own journey as fully as possible is not only a gift to our soul, it also frees up the generation behind us to live their lives as well. The very freedom to live our lives that we wished from our parents, we thereby grant to our children to live their lives.”

I was blown away by this wisdom. Too often we pass down to our children our own expectations or successes, the dreams we missed out on, or the failures that haunt us. Through our kids we can make the world right! But, the successful parent will pass on the joy of living, the joy of searching out and finding their own purpose in life.

I’ve been a parent now for just over sixteen years (yes, drive carefully in Davis County as Claire is out there with her new license). It’s sobering to look back at the successes and failures of parenthood so far. Some of my greatest joys come from these five kids who call me dad. Some of my greatest sorrows have come when I’ve let them down and haven’t been my best self. But I’m grateful for the journey we have together and the love and joy the bring to my life.

In one of the greatest Father’s Day cards that I could have received, Finn (age 9) wrote the following, “If I could chose what dad I get I choose you.” Melted my heart.

Jack’s (age 5) note was a little more light-hearted but equally impactful, “Remember when I climb on your back, and you can’t find me?” Clearly the time I spend with him has made a difference.

I know I’m not the best dad out there, but those two notes gave me the hope that I can get better, that I can be the kind of dad my kids need. 

  • Adam
    11 months ago
    Love this. Thanks for sharing!