I was speaking to a few dads in a sitdown meeting when the topic of our children’s future came up.
It was a complicated and heavy discussion, delving into such sub-topics such as our local government policies, its emphasis on meritocracy, and ultimately the need for our children to work on their academic lives even harder than any child has ever done in the history of our country, just so we can compete on level ground in what is currently a country growing a majority of foreigners who are equally, if not more, driven, talented and less materialistic.
As the “impassioned” discussion wore on, I studied each father sitting with me carefully – their postures, expressions and the stances they had taken – and decided to share my stance.
“The moment my son was born, I decided my life was no longer mine to live. The future belongs to my son now, and everything I have done over the last 4 years – in my family, my career, and myself – has been with my wife and son in mind.
“That being said, how my son will do in school is of little significance to me. And I don’t care if he grows up to be a lawyer, or a construction worker. There is only one thing I want to see my son become – a good person.
“Whatever he does in life, regardless of his successes or failures, I only really want him to learn one thing – my son must answer to himself. He must learn to be good, to do good, to learn the bad, and to understand why. The day he is able to live a good life – in every sense of the word “good” – I will know I have done my duty.”
But there is a catch to this, which I did not share with the fathers I was with at the time. In order to succeed in bringing a child up this way, I have to do the same.
I must learn to be good, to do good, to learn the bad, and to understand why. I have to be able to live a good life – in every sense of the word “good”.
Otherwise, it simply would not work. You’d catch the hypocrisy in a heartbeat. It would confuse you, hurt you, and ultimately influence you. And even if I wanted to, I would not be able to start again with you.
You would not forgive me.
I write this in the hope that one day, when you come to read this, you will remember the times I told you to “be a good boy”, and you will also truly understand when I tell you to “be a good man”.