How can I be a good parent? Who should I be to be a good parent? What does it even mean to be a good parent? For the last 8 months especially, these are all questions I’ve been thinking about a lot. And, with any luck, in the coming years, I might unearth some answers.
Of course, it’s relatively easy to just think about it. Actually writing it down is much harder, and posting it on the internet for all to see is even worse. After all, I could be wrong. Or – infinitely worse – I might fail to live up to the standards I set myself. But as Cialdani shows, publicly putting a stake in the ground only increases the odds I will succeed. And I’d rather have better chances than unembarrassing failure. On that note…
I don’t know. But I think there are some guiding principles. I write for Max, our imminently arriving son, but the same principles would apply to future children, yet to be imagined.
- Always be there.Spend time with Max. Do things with Max. Be as excited as him with him about the world and all the things in it. Help him be even more excited about the possible world and all the things that can be. Take the time to teach him, and take the time to learn from him. Celebrate his triumps. Share his setbacks. Laud his efforts.
- His effort is what counts… Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you have no control over it. Which means it’s much more important that you play the game as well and as hard as you can, whatever that game might be. Nothing is more important than his efforts.
- … but he should do better than me. It is up to Max to decide what is important in his life, not me, and he can change his mind on this as many times as he likes. But ultimately, if I cannot help him do better then me by his own standards towards his own goal, then I will have failed as a father.
- Love Katie. Max’s mum is very important, and nothing is more important to a child than having parents who love each other. Fortunately, I find loving Katie pretty easy to do.
And that’s it. Four principles. Hard to write down. Probably harder to live up to, but – like I said – that’s the point of writing them down. I’ve written a manifesto before. That was for me. I think this one is much more important. In a decade or two, my son will read this. I hope I will have lived up to what I have written.