Sunday, July 1, 2007

From EvoDad Subject Dallas Hayes...

I asked Dallas Hayes to contribute to our blog and here's what he wrote. Enjoy! - Dana

Good Enough Dad:

I'd like to thank Dana Glazer for his kind words, calling me an 'amazing father', however I want to point out that that is not how I see myself. I worry that as a subject of this film that I will be held up as an example of 'how to be a dad'. Perhaps I'll be seen by others as presenting myself as some kind of authority on how to be a dad. Please know that nothing could be further from the truth. If anything I see myself as a 'good enough dad', but more on that later.

My reasons for participating in this project are varied but most important is not to make a statement about the quality of parenting but about the quantity. I know that to others, the focus of my experience is that I'm a man who is a full time stay-home father. For me the focus is that I'm a parent who chose to stay home.

When it comes to the actual parenting we follow the tried and true practices that first-time parents have followed for millennia: we're winging it. What is important to us is that whether our parenting is good or bad, that there is a lot of it.

My only advice would be to be confident. After all humans have been parenting for close to 200,000 years, and there are over 6 billion of us on earth now. Surely it can't be that hard. Fortunately, in my opinion being the best parent you can be requires only that you be yourself. Your parenting ought to be an expression of who you are, a representation of the life you've led and lead. After all, you are you; your child is your child. The rest happens on its own if you let it. I am aware that society does not share this view. Our media is filled with admonitions and dire warning of how our screwed-up parenting is screwing up our kids. Our media also fosters the unrealistic expectation that all children are by default perfect and only become less so in the hands of their parents. Ignore this. My position is not that I'm perfect, nor is my child, neither is my parenting. My position is that as human beings with almost 200,000 years of evolution built into us, if left alone we'll do a job that is GOOD ENOUGH! Provided of course we’re there to do the job.

I know "Good Enough" is a tough cry to rally around when it comes to parenting. I'm aware that we all have hopes and dreams of greatness for our children and "good enough" just doesn't seem like it's going to get the job done, does it? I can't answer that for you. As I said above your parenting has to be an expression of who you are. For me, when I thought about parenting I was forced to realize that my hopes and dreams as a parent were ancillary to my responsibilities as a parent. I'll start off by saying that to me the 'hopes and dreams' are wish-fulfillment, they represent what I want for my child and they need not to be realistic at all, in fact they should be unrealistic. Better call Child Protective Services if I'm not dreaming of raising the next Einstein, Bill Gates or Shaq. The 'responsibilities' are more concrete, they represent what I think my family needs, what my child needs, and what society needs from me in my role as parent of a new member of society. The responsibilities as a parent and the hopes and dreams of a parent are not exclusive at all, but I think it can be said that all too often nowadays having hopes and dreams is seen as being the same as fulfilling the responsibilities. Let me tell you the hopes and dreams I have for my son, and as I see them, the responsibilities. I'm a simple man. If my son is happy by his own definition of happiness, and rich enough to buy his poor devoted parents a canal house in Amsterdam, and a villa on the French Riviera before we're too old to enjoy them, I'd be happy. Needless to say, that represents my hopes and dreams. The responsibilities were a little harder to formulate. Took me a little while to figure out how to put into words what I feel my family, my child and society needs from me as a parent. Finally I boiled it down to this: My responsibility as a parent is to raise my child to competent independent adulthood. I know it doesn't seem like I've set the bar too high, but remember these are responsibilities, they represent the minimum of what I expect to achieve as I perform the duties of a parent, what I keep in mind as I go about my day with my son. Our society encourages setting the high bar, the higher the better. In fact you may be seen as a neglectful parent if you deprive your children any conceivable opportunity for greatness, but not if you deprive them of yourself. My parenting is based up rejecting this conventional wisdom.

To sum up: Ignore the experts, be yourself, be realistic and most importantly: be there as much as you can.


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