Where are my WWE fans at? Oh, it’s just me … OK, fine. Is it safe to say that we parents occupy certain roles in our households? Well, there, I guess I just said it. Whether you consider yourself to be traditional, modern or whatever, it seems like we all fit (either intentionally or not) into roles that end up defining our families.
Most households have the disciplinarian, the nutritionist, the techie — if you are a single parent household, you sort of have parental multiple personalities as you fit into all of those roles. For Dads though, even if our player stats are versatile enough to fill multiple slots, we tend to latch on to those roles we feel best suit our personalities — which I learned recently, can most certainly backfire on you.
Growing up, my Father was one of those guys who certainly wore many hats in our family. Not only was he our provider, but he was our protector, our Mr. Fix-it and our resident Philosopher. But like most Dads, he made his indentations on the family barcalounger by being the “Life of the party Dad”. Wherever he was, that’s where the party was! You could hear him coming from miles away — looking for good times.
I am not saying this was a bad thing, although it did make for some awkward moments when I was in high school, but having my Dad incessantly occupy that role had unintended consequences for my siblings and I. For starters, any popularity we did have in school, was a direct result of my Dad — he was more popular than we were — everyone knew him. Now that might sound as if I was jealous, but you try going through high school where your own teachers did not know your name, but they sure knew your Dad’s!
But, perhaps the most difficult times for us is when he happened to stray into the no man’s land of the disciplinarian. I am not entirely sure if my parents made a conscious decision or if the chips just fell this way but Mom occupied, or rather, dominated the disciplinarian role. Like most other Mothers, my mom laid down the law and there was no room for filibustering. So in essence, “Party-Dad” brought balance to our lives.
It was only when, on those rare occasion, my Father became the disciplinarian, did life become difficult. First off, my Father was disciplinarianly challenged. He was not used to laying down the law so as a result, either he wasn’t listened to (which never helped the situation) because he wasn’t direct enough or, he was so direct — let’s just say we never knew what we were going to get. So the “Wait, til your Father gets home” or “ Don’t make me tell your Dad” was often met with very mixed and confusing reactions.
Flash forward a couple of decades, now that I am a Dad, I see that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Like most Dads, I too occupy many roles in our family. And, like most Dads, I tend to gravitate towards a couple of roles that best fit my personality. If I had to characterize myself, I guess I would fit in the Silly/Entertaining Dad category. I enjoy being a goofball and making my daughter laugh, and on occasions, embarrassing her. I also enjoy hosting events at our house and I am always up for a casual get together. It’s not that I neglect my other roles, but given a choice, this is where I generally land. Recently, however, I realized that as comfortable as this space is for me, my family requires that I give equal weight to all of my roles.
The other day, my daughter was … lets just say, not embodying the behavior of the little princess we adore. Behavior modification was definitely on the menu — and it was up to me the place the order. Normally in these situations, being silly usually diffuses the situation — but this time it wasn’t working.
Desperate times calls for desperate measures, so I broke the glass on the old time-out card and issued a consequence of some sort of denial of a toy. While I was feeling pretty good about my parenting, my daughter was reacting as if I took away all her Princess dresses = mass hysteria ensued. But then it dawned on me, not only was she not used to this sort of reaction from me but she was probably more afraid of my reaction, than anything else. Well of course I felt bad because I realized that while there is nothing wrong with being Silly Dad, there’s a time and a place for everything and in a weird sort of way, my daughter was telling me that through all the hysterics.
We Dads need to be constantly in pursuit of the balance that is required when it comes to the roles we play in our families. We need to make sure that we fulfill those roles that are best for our families, even if they are not within our comfort zones. Showing that we can be many things for our children not only ensures we are supporting our families, but it also provides our children with a more balanced environment at home.