“Hey Dad… you wanna have a catch?”
The penultimate line in “Field of Dreams” makes grown men weep – and that’s exactly what I did when I recently watched the movie for the first time since I became a father. The father/son storyline reminds me of my own father, a man I love. I’ve often wondered, is my father proud of me?
Now that I’m a father, I realize that pride is the wrong way to measure a successful relationship between father and child. Traditionally, one might measure fatherhood through their child’s achievements or status: good grades, marital status, financial security, professional accolades, or bearing children.
In my short experience as a father – and what I imagine I will experience over the next 20-25 years – it’s more about the soft metrics that provides an accurate sense of my “job performance” as a dad. Have I created an environment where my daughter can:
- Grow into a mature human being,
- Behave in an admirable way,
- Contribute to society,
- Laugh and find joy,
- Confidently chase their wants and desires, and
- Enjoy time shared with parents, family, and friends?
Through the development of this environment, parents also develop their own sense of self. By creating a world where others can succeed, we, too, have succeeded. A child’s upbringing is partially created through the sacricifies of parents. Later in life, children repay those sacrifices by excelling in the environment their parents helped mold.
I shouldn’t concern myself on whether my father is proud of me; rather, I can say with confidence that he’s created amazing opportunities for me through the environment in which I was raised. It makes the time invested with my father all the more valuable.