No person has a perfect track record. Certainly, no parent does. We all mess up. We all fall short. We get our priorities wrong. We make mistakes. We lose our temper and our patience. We all handle certain situations in ways we wish we hadn’t.
Is there anything worse than that feeling? Knowing that you screwed up? Worrying that it will screw them up? The guilt. The regret. The fear.
What do you do? Shane Parrish, creator of the wildly popular Farnam Street blog and host of The Knowledge Project Podcast, gave us some great advice when we talked to him a little while back. He said it’s the one thing all fathers need to know. He analogized it to the best thing a baseball player can do after a bad at-bat: “Keep your head up and take another swing.” Then he explained:
I remember calling my late mom one night, exhausted and feeling overwhelmed. I had lost my cool on the kids. She gave me a piece of advice that stuck with me, “If you don’t learn to let go of your mistakes today, they’ll compound tomorrow. Get some sleep and start again tomorrow.” I still remember that when I have bad parenting days. Tomorrow I’ve got to get up and start all over.
You can’t go back to yesterday and undo what you did. You can’t magically unmake your mistakes. You can’t erase from their memories that time you lost your cool or that other time you said those things you regret saying. But what you can do is make this one memory among many. What you can do is write a better, more complete story. What you can do is show them that that wasn’t who you are. You can strive to get better. If we do that, if we learn from our mistakes then move forward, Shane said, “our lows will be higher than our previous lows and we’ll continue making progress, no matter how slow or imperceptible it may seem.”
Our next at-bat will always be better than our previous. That’s all that is asked of you: to keep your head up and take another swing.
P.S. This was originally sent on January 27, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”