The Measure of a Parent
(In Loving Memory of My Father)
By Maria Macfarlane
What it means to be a parent defies description. It is more than a social designation. It’s an absolute, resolute state of being that we embody for an entire lifetime. Once we become a mom or a dad, our focus shifts and priorities change. We passionately support all that our kids do and become fierce guardians of their well being.
Children are empty vessels just waiting to be filled.
We want to do things right so that they will reach their full potential. This profound responsibility can seem daunting, but we do our best and hope that our kids become respectable, capable adults. Our parenting resources are limitless…so we read the books and consult the experts. We earnestly deliberate about how we teach, what to preach and when to do it.
But ultimately, once they are all grown up and on their own, what will our children remember? Or to be more specific… how will they remember us?
Is the real measure of a parent how you have mastered the fine art of raising a child or is it more about what kind of a person they have known you to be? Will our kids realize or appreciate what pop culture parenting method worked best on them or will they be more influenced by how they watched us live our life?
Will our children want to emulate us?
The passing of my dear father, only a few weeks ago, has given me pause to think about how much of an impact all the step-by-step advice and how-to philosophies actually have on the way our kids turn out. Surely their character is determined more by what motivates and inspires them at home than a specific theory that has been espoused during various stages of their lives. How much they choose to take, from all we have taught them, will be the true testament as to what kind of parents we have been.
Now that he is gone, I have spent much time contemplating about how much my dad has meant to me. Growing up, he was our standard...our touchstone. A dedicated husband, a kind grandfather and a caring father; my dad was also a man of faith who drew his quiet strength and generous spirit from a devout belief in God. He made a difference in the lives of many and he reached out, not only to his community, but to his friends, co-workers and neighbors.
We could not have asked for a better role model. My father’s family meant the world to him. He was not highly educated, nor did he stress about what the experts had to say about the latest childrearing trend or study. He was simply a good, honest man who led by example and we, as his children, evolved accordingly.
He paved the way for the rest of us to follow.
When all is said and done, the reality of my father’s 83 years on this earth lies neither in his professional success nor his material wealth. It rests in the personal legacy that he has left behind and the solid foundation upon which the future generations of our family can build. His marriage was one of deep commitment and much love. His children are leading happy, prosperous lives and his grandchildren will forever remember him as a devoted Grampa who actively took part in their lives.