Editor’s Note: For Father’s Day 2016, we asked some NYC Dads Group members to reflect on the similarities and differences between how they parent and how their our own fathers did. We received some very honest, heartfelt responses. Here are a few.
My father was old school. He was not into voicing and expressing his emotions. He rarely, if ever, said “I love you” and was not into hugging. This did not make me feel unloved as I knew he felt it on some level. However, I do feel I missed out. I regularly say “I love you” to my children, and I hug them often. According to my older son, I hug him “too much.” But he’s a tween and can be a bit moody. I’ll still hug him and say I love you anyway!
My father was of the more traditional variety. He worked a full stressful day and had dinner with us every evening. He was the firm one, the educator and the disciplinarian. There was always a limit on social activity and a great deal of emphasis placed on my education.
He was also, kind and soft and caring. My sister and I always felt loved. Part of our nightly ritual was a story in bed sprinkled with some hearty giggle time with Dad. These are my most vivid and happy memories of my childhood with my father.
Encouragement from my father often came in the form of yelling through his frustrations with me. As a father of three myself, I better appreciate some of those frustrations and feel sheepish about my early teen behavior. In the end, I always knew he had confidence and faith in me, but want me to do better and be better – because he know I had it in me. A great test score in school could easily be greeted with a query about the questions I got wrong. Always striving for better.
I’d like to think that I have taken the sweetness and fun giggle-time parts of my father and woven in a positive reinforcement method of encouragement with my kids. While I am not an “everyone-always-gets-a-trophy” kind of dad, I do try to focus on the positive. I have a great father who has become the ultimate (almost unrecognizable) teddy bear of a grandfather. If I can give to my children what my father gave to me, I feel like my kids would be pretty damn lucky.
— Satyan Sharma
When building a picnic table with my father, you realize how the concept of “measure twice, cut once” is not just a phrase, but a motto.
My dad is always working on something. Whether it’s small projects around the house or something as gigantic as taking the engine out of his 1969 Oldsmobile 442. He ia always busy fiddling with something, just like his dad before him was. Helping out on these projects meant that you had, at the very minimum, to known the difference between a flathead and Phillips head. I have many fond memories of working in the garage with my dad from boyhood through today.
My dad taught me about working hard, finishing projects that you start, and always do your best. My son loves coming out to the garage and working with me, I am glad I know how to put him to work!
It really is amazing how after “x” number of generations, things are starting to change when it comes to involved fatherhood.
As a child, I didn’t see my dad much because he was so busy working. He’s a lawyer and I still find it difficult to imagine him without a suit and tie. He was also emotionally withholding. I can’t remember him telling me he loved me until I was much older. Instead, he’d talk to my mom and my mom would tell me what my dad said.
My grandfather, too, was emotionally withholding (and also work-oriented) as there were zero signs of physical affection between the two men in my family. Never any hugs. My grandfather actually seemed to recoil a bit when my uncle jokingly tried to hug him. Like my grandfather probably did to him, my dad didn’t show me physical affection.
People need to be hugged, especially children. They need to know that they’re loved. So I’ve broken the cycle. As a stay-at-home dad (something I can’t imagine either my father or grandfather ever being), I’m there for her in the mornings before school and in the afternoons and evenings after school. My daughter receives hugs and kisses aplenty from me and hopefully that will never change. I tell her I love her every day and every night. I make sure she knows she’s safe.
think somewhere in my brain I knew my father loved me, but it was so buried in self-doubt that I never believed it and never felt secure. My dad’s making up for it now as he often tells me he’s proud of me and loves me … even if our hugs remain awkward.