MSN had an interesting little item up this morning: 10 Things No One Tells You About Parenting. It covers the basics, like "time? what time?" or the feeling of utter failure that comes from being a modern parent. I've composed a few lists like this myself from time to time, usually for people who are thinking about becoming a parent or who are about to become a parent for the first time. However, over time I have shrunk the list down to fewer and fewer. The last time someone asked, my list had one item on it.
"What can I do?" my friend asked me. "I don't know anything about being a father. What do I have to offer my children?"
There is only one thing that matters, I told him then, and that is to be a good example for your children. Of all the things you can do for them, or give them, this is the only one that counts: to give them a good, loving example. We may fail many times over. But our children will fail as well, and that is why our failures are an opportunity to show our children how to learn from failure, and rise again. It is a terrible burden but also a joyful honour to be a father, to know the children look to you for an example, and to know that you must provide it for them in everything. In how we treat people, in how we work, in our fun, in prosperity, in adversity, and in our faith, by our example we help to shape our children. If we give our children a good example, we will have given them everything they need. If we fail to give them a good example, though we give them everything else- playstations, cars, homes, an education, a fortune- we will have given them nothing.
My friend looked at me a little puzzled, and never brought the subject up again. Well, now I have an article and a website to send to him.