Being a father of two at 28 years old is a little ridiculous. I feel ill-equipped a lot (imposter syndrome is real with parenting, too.) With a two and a half year old (Simon) and a nearly one year old (Leo), my wife and I are having conversations and deciding the type of parents we'd like to be. We're not deciding who we want our kids to be but we're defining the values we want them to stand for—their character. There are some qualities that Emily and I have defined that are essential to the character of a Leatherman.
My dad always had us boys working on something—whether it be a chore around the house, or chopping firewood for a camping trip, or mowing the lawn, or cleaning out the dishwasher. Every labor day, we labored. It wasn't always fun, but I understand why he did it. He had values that he wanted to pass on, and he was building his three sons toward those character traits. Maybe he didn't sit down and formally define them, but those values are clearly illustrated by both of my parents' actions.
"It builds character" — Andy Leatherman #
I learn something new every day from my kids, and tonight when Simon wouldn't share a toy with Leo, he started blowing up. A major case of the terrible twos. Finally, I took him aside and because Emily and I don't negotiate with terrorists said, "Simon, since you are a part of this family, you should know that sharing is just what we do." And that was that.
Not more than ten seconds after, he politely offers Leo a toy. Side note: one year olds have tiny attention spans and he'd already moved on to another toy, but the point remains. When you clearly define who you want to be—you can build toward that with the type of decisions you make.
I think it's worth noting that we're clearly not perfect parents, but we are working toward defining the type of parents we'd like to be—it's not something that's completely set in stone. Obviously situations change, kids change, perspective changes. But when we define the values we'd like our kids to stand for, and build toward that character, all of our little decisions lead to big change.