Fathers, like children, should walk around with their eyes wide open. There are lessons everywhere – something to learn from everyday activities, wisdom to glean from our superiors and our subordinates, and a lot of applicable knowledge from our military careers.
Yes, even PT can teach us a thing or two.
I personally hate PT. Getting up that early in the morning so that I can run at an excruciatingly slow pace (which kills my knees) with a bunch of people singing the same melody, over and over, with the same few verses I’ve heard for years and years…that’s just not my idea of a great way to start the day. I much prefer to be in a warm gym, lifting weights. You can keep your left-righty-left-right.
But PT does require self-discipline, endurance and motivation. And that got me thinking. Being a good dad requires self-discipline, endurance and motivation. And then I started looking a little deeper. I realized, in due time, that there was a lot I could learn about fatherhood from physical training. For your reading pleasure, I’ve included 5 here:
- Fatherhood is all about the pace. If you’re burning with everything you’ve got through your PT session, you’re not going to make it through the entire session without falling over dead. The same holds true for fatherhood. If you’re doing nothing but caring for the baby, night and day, with no breaks and no time for yourself, your performance is going to crash through the floor. We’ve all been told that quantity of time spent with your kids is very important, but let’s not forget the flip side of that. Just because you’re napping on the couch in the same room as the munchkin doesn’t mean they’re getting quality time with you.
- Not everyone is born to be a father. It’s okay if you’re not great at it right off the bat. Some guys just instinctively “get it,” just like some guys burn through all the pull-ups, push-ups and running in boot camp like it was easy as eating chocolate cake. I hate those guys. But listen, if you’re not a “natural,” it doesn’t mean you weren’t born to be a father. If you’re on a learning curve, take comfort in the fact that you’re just like 99% of other guys.
- One screw-up doesn’t make you a failure. If you went out one morning and just couldn’t give it your all on the run, or on the obstacle course, or whatever torture your First Sergeant was subjecting you to, would you finish that PT session feeling a little bit ashamed? Of course you would. Would it completely break your spirit and convince you that you don’t have any natural talent, that you’ll never make it in the Army, Marines, et al and that you should probably just sneak off back home with your sea bag and try to pretend the military never happened? Of course not! In the same vein, just because you accidentally microwaved the bottle too hot doesn’t mean it’s time to call Child Protective Services on yourself.
- Measure your progress. Learn as you go. Parenting is a constant learning process, so don’t forget to sit down every now and then and take stock of what you’ve learned, and what you can do better in the future.
- Make a plan and do your best to stick with it. When you’re training, you don’t want to just “wing it.” Same with parenting. Don’t get caught up in the day-to-day. Outline a strategy; spend time thinking about the kind of people you want your kids to be. When I think about it, I want to raise my daughter to be tough, funny, and a little bit kind. I pattern my parenting style – and the example I set for her – on this principle.