As I reflect on my seven decades of living, it is only now that I realize just how much I have enjoyed the role of helping to raise a son and a daughter. I recognize that I made many mistakes as a father. I also believe my wife and I got a few things right.
Being a father is a huge responsibility. For me, I didn’t fully appreciate parenting’s magnitude. I flew by the seat of my pants, using others as models. For good or ill, my father was my chief influencer.
Dr. Benjamin Spock aside, us baby boomers basically were on our own when it came to being parents. After all, neither the Internet nor Google had been born.
We were offspring of the silent generation. Even with other parents as role models, not counting Ward and June Cleaver, I heavily relied on common sense and practicality in being a father.
I understand that we didn’t parent alone or in isolation. My wife and I had much help from friends, family, teachers, and the very organizations in which we served.
My wife and I tried to be on the same page when it came to parental decisions, though we weren’t always consistent. Still, together, we managed to raise two healthy youngsters from diapers to diplomas into adulthood, and then let them fly on their own.
As parents, we tried not to alter our lifestyles significantly once our children arrived. We took them to concerts, calling hours, museums, baseball games, and family picnics. We visited cities, state and national parks, hiked and fished, and generally enjoyed showing them the breadth and depths of life, as we knew it.
Being the father of adult children is a whole different ballgame than when they were youngsters. It is difficult to watch them make decisions similar to what their mother and I had done and not say anything unless asked.
However, being a grandfather has given me a clearer perspective on fatherhood. We live in a global world today, just as we always have. Only I didn’t connect those dots then. I do now, and I am so glad to see that both our son and daughter comprehend how interconnected the world in which we live is.
As mother and father, we imperfectly tried to teach and model the precepts of service, humility, fairness, justice, and mercy. Now, as a senior citizen, I am so grateful for the opportunities to observe our “children” in their daily, imperfect walk to make this rough and tumble world a better place.
I have cherished my role as a father. Now I find great joy in listening, observing, and reflecting as I watch our grandchildren grow all too quickly. It’s like being a parent all over again, only without the direct primary responsibility or the tax deductions.
If I had it to do over again, I would work diligently to explore far beyond my own life space, beyond my own comfort zone. I realize, too, the duplicity of my community involvement. Frequently other activities took precedence over that of my family. I also know that participation set examples of service to others for them.
It is gratifying to watch your adult children successfully employ the precepts you labored to teach them. It is equally uplifting to be there when they need assistance in doing so.
I am grateful that our daughter and son have developed into successful, productive, and caring adults. What more could a father want?
© Bruce Stambaugh 2019
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