I am a Dad to a girl and a boy – a pair of teenage twins actually, who will turn 15 soon. With Fathers Day coming up, it’s appropriate to share a reflection on being a Dad.
The context of this Dad story began three years ago. That was when my wife and I began what was to be a permanent relocation exercise which started the biggest transition ever in our lives. Coincidentally perhaps, my wife and I were approaching mid-life and our twins were approaching adolescence.
About the same time a major crisis struck the (broader) organization where my wife and I worked. This sparked off a chain of events that snowballed as the situation deteriorated rapidly, causing delay upon delay to our relocation timeline. My wife and I were roped in to help in damage control while uncertainty got added to the future plans of a family already in a major tailspin.
We were caught up in a whirlpool on no-man’s land as we grappled with life transitions and two career switches. Our family felt lost and each one of us also felt the full impact of the resulting emotional tsunami that descended upon us.
The strains on our relationships showed – I took turns to bicker either with my son, my daughter or my wife. Yes, another transition that I struggled with was the switch from parenting two kids to parenting two teenagers. My wife had been intentionally preparing for this change and she is fine in this department.
I saw the many ways a crisis can play out. It destabilises and even destroys. I have also seen how it can draw a family closer. Our family went through many tense moments. But we also had more heart-to-heart talks. We have actually grown closer.
Three years have now passed and I have changed. This protracted transition was actually an opportunity for me to grow as a Dad.
Today, I am even more convinced that there are Dads for a reason. We have very distinct responsibilities. We help the family walk through difficult times.
Throughout this season, my greatest desire as a Dad is to have a loving father’s heart towards my kids – despite lapses in my expectations of them or good advice that often goes unheeded.
I’ve also discovered that I’ve got a big responsibility as a life-guide to my kids. It is most rewarding when they can grow up valuing relationships, being responsible and communicating honestly. Fatherhood and paternal involvement are integral to healthy children and a thriving society.
Dads make mistakes and I mess up, too often myself. I struggle to be a great Dad but I am doing the best I can because I love my kids! No matter how much pressure I feel, I want to be there for our twins.
One dad memory that I shall always take with me was my son telling me that we should not hug in public any more. That was hard.
Another happened when I was walking our twins to school. My daughter let go of my hand as we approached the school gate. At the point of release, I fell into a state of disbelief. Fatherly grief followed suit.
A third memory was when my daughter said: “Dad, can I have my hand back?” To which I asked: “But I’ve been holding your hand for over 10 years … and you want it back?”
It seems like Father’s Day is more of a day of practical gift giving. But it doesn’t always have to be this way. This Father’s Day, I will be spending time with my Dad and I will tell him that he did a good job. You can too.
Happy Father’s Day!
Ben KC Lee