One thing I am big on with my daughter is leading by example.
I understand that at some point in her life she will get her hands on enough booze to turn me green. I acknowledge the fact that there will be things she will attempt that I will not approve of. So what I attempt to do is show her that life can be accomplished without these things and the ones I do partake in I always do to moderation in front of her.
One the items I stress are promises. I give them sparingly and make a point of explaining to her to not make promises that she can not keep. This weekend I am fulfilling one of my promises.
A family vacation.
Maybe its just me. Maybe it’s because I was in a military family. Maybe its because Dad was sick all the time. Who knows. But family vacations were never something we really did. It was always one of we siblings with one parent or the other, or both siblings with a single parent. I can count on one hand the amount of times we went anywhere as a group….which became even more increasingly sparse as we got older and my parents marriage waned.
Thats not a knock on my parents mind you. They did what they could when they could and the best they could. Every generation and family has its challenges and the decisions we make are for life.
Living “normal” and having a “normal” life is one of my top priorities for the Critter. Keeping things as sane as possible. She takes priority in almost anything, including my work. I did enough contract work to know that my headstone isn’t going to talk about what a dedicated employee I was. I want to make sure she knows I earned that “Dedicated and Loving Husband & Father” epithet. Or what ever the hell they stick on it. (Here lies the one short fat Irishman. Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven)
We haven’t done many vacations as a family. We do what I call “excursions”. Load up for a weekend, or a day and visit somewhere. A brief overnight trip. For years we have done separate vacations, primarily because of our work and vacation schedules. This weekend is different. Almost four days and change. Reservations made, everything but the food and gas paid for.
Back in December one of the things she asked to have for Christmas was a family vacation. She begged me to promise. I confess to being reluctant to agreeing. Its hard to do with two working parents, especially ones whose work is so vastly different and with us both having obligations elsewhere as well.
While the vacation itself is great, and I consider it important, more important to me is the fact I kept my word to her. Over and over again I am repeatedly explaining to her that ones word is ones bond. What we say we must mean, and if people lose that trust in you, then you have nothing left to offer to them.
I made that mistake in my early years. I was just this side of a pathological liar. I’d have made a great lawyer. But the drama, the problems and the issues that came with it was a harsh lesson to learn, and one I took to heart.
As a parent, we want our kids to see us not only as friends, but as people they can look up to. People who they feel stand for not just something, but also for them. No one will ever be an advocate for your child but you. Your kids need to see that you will stand up for them, and come down on them just as well when they are wrong. It helps them learn to stay in the right. Thats my take anyway.
I’m sure there is some pscyobabble scientist out there who will say I’m wrong and I need to hug my kid more, or do some form of saran wrapped teddy bear rebirth cult ritual to get mine to behave. And one day I may listen to them, thought I doubt it seriously.
But right now I have promises to keep.