Sunday, 15 June 2008

The Perfect Father

Take the eyes of Peter Andre (because he seems like he would "see" deeply into feelings), the ears of Jamie Oliver (because he seems to listen well), and the mouth of Gordon Ramsay (because he speaks openly about everything) and you have the makings of "The Perfect Father". So says a survey amongst teenagers of what they think a perfect father would be like. (Yes, I was a bit shocked at the mouth one, too!)
If only it was this simple and of course the survey is not suggesting that it is, but it's interesting to note what most people have as their ideal. And it's not about having someone buy you the latest clothes, cd's, dvd's or games consoles - it's about feelings and emotions. Not such a revelation in itself, but perhaps an insight into what is important to our children, despite what advertising and social trends tend to tell us.
That I had the best father in the world, is something that I was able to easily believe. My father was a very good man, a man of principles and great intelligence, though not excessively educated. He was an artist, a writer, a speaker, a musician - all of the highest degree. He taught me the meaning of morality and of when to speak and when to keep silent (this last, something that at middle age I find that I have still not mastered). As a child I believed that it was quite plausible for everyone to believe that their parents were the best in the world.
As I grew older I found that not everyone did believe this, and that came as a suprise to me. How anyone could not think their parent perfect, was at first unthinkable. Growing older still, I learned that looking for perfection can often lead to unhappiness and that it is a more or less unattainable goal, whether seeking it in others or ourselves. But even if my father was not "perfect" in the true sense of the word - because he was human and could not be - then he was to me. And that's all that matters.
The best fathers are the ones who listen to their children, offer advice when it's needed, keep quiet when it isn't. They teach their children what they believe to be right and give them the opportunity to question these beliefs as they grow older. Perhaps they do not have to be around all of the time - often circumstances mean that they can't be. But to be there in mind and heart is maybe as good as - and sometimes this is as much as can be given.
Happy Father's Day, to fathers everywhere.