When I asked friends to give me their take on what it takes to be a good dad, I got some great examples. Here’s one that I thought took on a tough issue in a really common sense way. Lots of dadding wisdom from another “Mike” in the anecdote that he shared:
I’m inclined to answer your question with an anecdote rather than with abstractions.
One spring morning, when our twins, Marcus and Molly, were eleven years old, I was driving them to school. That afternoon was to be their first practice of the Little League baseball season. I noticed they were unusually quiet and looking to each other, as if silently urging the other to say something. Finally Marcus found his voice and said softly, “We don’t want to play baseball this year.”
Last year had been their first in Little League and they had played on the same team, with Molly being the only girl in the league. They had practiced regularly, played in a few of the games and seemed to enjoy it. I have always loved baseball and the three of us had frequently played catch or practiced hitting together. I looked forward to this second season, knowing that with their increased competence, they would get more playing time and that they would be an integral part of the team. So I was a bit surprised.
They were now very quiet, perhaps even holding their breaths, obviously worried about how I would respond. Again, I could see them looking to one another. I thought hard about how best to answer them, and finally I told them a story about my own childhood, about how from the 4th through the 6th grades I had played a trombone in the band. And about how I hated it, almost from the very beginning, but that I continued playing because I was afraid to quit, thinking I might disappoint my parents or my teachers.
I told them that their ability to be clear, to themselves and to others, about what they wanted and about what they did not want was extremely important and that I was very proud of them for being so clear about Little League baseball. They visibly relaxed and before we had reached their school, the usual morning chatter had resumed.