I'm a few months past 60 and I've got kids by blood and kids by marriage. My first marriage went off the rails and I got custody of our kids. My second wife, beautiful and loving, died of a long-term illness. My third wife, beautiful and my intellectual match keeps me between the lines. The continuity that you assume you'll have you don't always get. So you have to be the north star for your children.
Dads come in all shapes and sizes. Life is too often a game of prepared chance. You're dealt bad hands that you have to play out but that's what Dads do. You get up even if you don't feel like it and go to a job you really don't like because those kids need you to. In an ever changing world you are a constant, a rock in the lives of your kids. From taking their first steps to buying their first car, you're holding their hands all the way.
I truly believe that there is nothing like a good mother's love, fluid, resilient and unchanging like a river. A good Dad is the strong oak tree planted by that river that the children lean on, sit under, play on and pray by. The best gift you can give your kids is to love their Mom. In that, you've synergized the love they receive and sealed in them security and taught them the meaning of love. Honestly I've been on both sides of that coin but whatever happens you don't let go of them.
It's hard to appreciate when you're young what little sponges kids can be. They'll tell your mother-in-law word for word what you said about her in private but they also absorb what you do with them and just as much and possibly more while they're watching you. Words are important and need to expressed but I do believe a Dad's actions and interactions, supporting them, teaching them and goofing off with them shape your kids tremendously.
The America I grew up in was a little different than now. Traditions and social practices are much more fragmented. In effect there were more social boundaries then and the temptations we faced were much less lethal and much less shocking. The trend seems to be to pull our kids today away from personal interaction and reality, and into a digital world of their own immersion. As a Dad I played video games with my sons and really enjoyed it but I also took them hunting and taught them to love the outdoors. My daughters didn't escape that. They played sports and got outdoors too. Kids need boundaries and they need balance. They need love and encouragement. If you want to know, for the most part, how they'll turn out, look at what you've taught them.
I'm a Christian and in that I always tried to instill in them a practice of faith and the fact that we are part of a larger picture. The appreciation of the natural world, to me, is evidence of God and the rhythm and interconnectedness of life. The value of hard work and the sense of compassion and rightness are vital to do your part for your God and your country.
Ultimately it's our job to prepare them the very best we can to survive and prosper on their own.
Do your best. At the end of the day when they're 25 or 30 and you wonder what their heroes look like, it's not some action hero, celebrity or sports star. Take a look in the mirror.
Bill Combs has been in industrial management all his adult life. He has four step-kids and two that kinda look like him. His dream is being a successful novelist. Check him out at amazon.com/author/billcombs.