It’s confusing to be a parent these days. Confusing to be a father, too. Because roles are in a state of flux. Expectations are always increasing. And of course, the world is an enormous mess.
There’s a pandemic. Civil unrest. An unpredictable economy. A culture war. What are you supposed to do? What should your priorities be? What do you focus on?
Terence, the great Roman playwright—a former slave—has a wonderful prescription for fathers. It’s 2,000 years old, but that’s the thing about good advice: it’s timeless and true in every situation.
Act in such a way that your son will feel that you are his father. Act in such a way that he can dare to entrust you with all things, that it will be from you that he will seek and beseech all things.
You have to be the adult. You also have to make it clear that you are for and with them. You don’t need to tell them they can trust you, count on you. You have to show that.
All the stuff that’s going on in the world? Yeah, it’s tough. But it is also the opportunity of a lifetime. To teach your kids about what’s important. To show them what it looks like to be on the right side of the right issues. To show them what their responsibilities are as people, as good people.
You can talk all you want about what being a man is, about how much it means to you to be a father. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re acting that way. In each and everything you do.