To be a dad: Be big

I’ve been reading a great deal about fatherhood, parenting, and so-on. It’s funny how long long step by step instructions, massive data sets, and extended philosophical discourses on fatherhood, despite their value, don’t stick in your head the way brief descriptions like this can:

A grown man, even a small or otherwise unremarkable man, can still be a god-like giant to a little boy.

You don’t have to be a dick. You don’t have to make the kid feel small.

All you have to do is be big.

Instead of leaning over, make him look up or pick him up. Instead of talking down to him, make him talk up to you.

Be big, expansive, benevolent. Be authoritative. You can be playful without being a little boy.

While not all of Jack Donovan’s is universally the case (stopping to speak to a child, can at times be valuable), in general children need magnificence to which to aspire. Parents both offer this. Father can offer it in a particular way. When I was a child, I always found my father, grand fathers, uncles, and their adult friends to be fascinating in their competence to fix, climb, destroy, or create things. Seeing an man bleed and not cry was astounding to me. Watching somebody lift a car with a jack or melt steel with a torch was endlessly engrossing. I remember being charged by a bull as a boy and just when I thought I would die, I looked back and saw my grandfather leap through the air, with a shovel (maybe this is my imagination filling in gaps), bashing the beast and frightening it enough to end it’s path toward my destruction.

I hope that my children will have many similar experiences.

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