*My boys may never quite understand how fortunate they are to have the dad they were given, because they do not know anything else.Unlike me, they will know what it feels like to have their biological father fully present in their upbringing. And like me, they will also know what it is like to have father figures in their lives to assist, guide, correct and instruct them along their journey.
While I did not have the presence of my biological father, who left our family, when I was five, because he thought his schizophrenia would negatively impact us, I had the benefit of many surrogates in the form of uncles and family friends. They appropriately instructed and guided me on what to expect from young men, and later on men, as well as from life. They also gave me tough love and I am ever grateful for each of them. I am better off because they were there.
There is often so much negative press around deadbeat dads, absent fathers, mothers raising children by themselves, fathers who have fallen short on child support, and other things that fathers “aren’t” doing. I felt compelled to write about a father I know, who has raised the bar. He is my former husband and my children’s father, Donald Cost.
Some celebrity dads write books on fatherhood, go on tours telling men how to be a great dad and give lots of unsolicited advice to fathers about what it means to be a “great dad.” However, even in the midst of all of that good work, I can’t help but to note the travel required for the “great dad” tours, keeps them away from home for long periods.. I only note this to cull out that we all should define what success looks like for us in the roles we play in our families. For some money provided may be the indicator of success, for others it may be a lifestyle, for some time spent and for others exposure to the world. Of course there are many other ways to define success in your familial role.
Donald has chosen time spent, experiences had, exposure to the world, support of education, and a true joint co-parenting partnership with his former wife as some of his indicators of parenting success. Sure he buys gifts for birthdays and Christmas, and even a few off season, but Donald’s biggest gift to his children is his presence. He’s decided that he will be there.
Donald won’t ever toot his own horn or talk about the way he’s chosen to raise his children; however, I know from experience, the feedback I get from onlookers and how our children speak of their father, that his commitment, love, support, care and presence are providing a strong foundation. God’s grace, along with Donald’s willingness to prioritize Chris and Cam will sustain them for years to come.He’s decided that, despite our no longer being married, sacrifice of leisure time and even professional life is required to be a successful dad
When I asked the boys what they appreciate about their dad, here’s what they had to say, “He takes care of us, he lets us make our own choices sometimes, he gives us tough love, he helps us with our homework, but not so much that we don’t learn. He coaches our basketball and football teams, he doesn’t bail on us, he helps us learn how to do the right thing, he teaches us about consequences and he’s very caring.” Not bad coming from an 8 and 10 year old. And, that’s only from what they know. I can vouch for the sacrifice and commitment that they will never know.
I look forward to times ahead when I can recount to the boys how they were loved, had the opportunity to play a variety of sports, had a dog they adored, experienced exciting new things like the trapeze and rock climbing, learned the true basics of being a team player, learned how to treat a girl, stood firm in protecting themselves, learned how to resolve physical conflict, developed a realistic view of their talents, were doted on with hugs, kisses and I love yous. I will tell them “it was because your father was there.”
Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers!
Monica Cost is a Brand Strategist for Evidently Assured & the Live Your Truth Experience (L.Y.T.E.). She is the Author of the new life changing book on living an authentic life called, “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome sensations” (found at www.monicacost.com) Email her at: LiveYourTruth@MonicaCost.com. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost. www.monicacost.com. Live true!