A Better Version


As I think about things that could inspire men, I’m spending some time thinking about the Seaborn family in the larger sense. I’m thinking of my dad as well as my role as a dad to my four adult kids. But I’m not stopping there—I’m also thinking of my grandfathers and the fathers of my grandchildren. When I stop and think about all of those families and all of those fathers, I’m picturing a whole lot of people! My guess is that’s the case for many of you reading this right now. Even if you aren’t a father yourself, or if you didn’t have a relationship with your father, chances are that you’re close to several people who are fathers.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t have to work hard to remember how my own father made lots of mistakes as I was growing up, some of which have had long-term effects for me. But when I heard some of the stories of his childhood, I had more grace for him. I realized that he was doing the best he could. And as my kids grew up, I tried to take the way he’d raised me and improve on it. Again, I know I made lots of mistakes. And one of the things that I frequently tell my kids is that I hope they take the things I did well and improve on them as they raise their own kids. And that I also hope they take the things I did poorly and learn to do better than I did.

Even if it’s hard for you to admit your shortcomings, I think that’s a sentiment all fathers can agree with. We all want our kids to have a better and healthier life than we had, and hoping that they’re a better father than we were is the natural extension of that. Hopefully, we gave them the best that we had available at the time. We hope they can use that as the foundation for doing an even better job as they raise their own kids. Of course, if we had the chance to go back and do things over again, we would avoid some of our mistakes. If you’ve been beating yourself up about honest mistakes, just remember that you may know better now, but you didn’t at the time. Give yourself some grace.

Basically, my challenge is to keep doing your best as a father or grandfather. Don’t get too hung up on past mistakes or so focused on not messing up that you never take any chances or have any fun with your kids. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good because you will say or do things that harm your kids. Just like you’ll say or do things that harm your spouse. Being a good dad doesn’t mean never making any mistakes. It means being willing to own up to your mistakes and taking steps to correct them. You’re going to make mistakes. Just like your dad did—and his dad before him and so on. In family life, mistakes are part of the deal. But when you use them as learning opportunities and work to pass on a better version of fatherhood than the one you were given, you’ll be winning more often at home.