Who are You Doing it For?
Because your kids probably won't remember it.
The perfect birthday party. The perfect vacation. You want to give your child memories that will last the rest of their lives. The only problem: kids start forgetting their earlier memories around age 7.
So who are you really doing these things for? Imagine the first birthday party of a baby as he sits in a high chair and looks around as if he’s being interrogated. Friends and family gather around to admire the growing child and see how he will react. Pictures are taken.
But remember, the one-year-old will not remember this moment. It is not really for him. The party is for the parents and the grandparents. The pictures are intended to be shared on social media so attention and dopamine can be flooded into adult brains, and everyone can see what a great mom she is.
Who gets upset if something goes wrong? Not the baby. This is just another day for him, another in a long line of incomprehensible moments. It is usually the mother, the party planner, who gets upset at imperfections. When life doesn’t cooperate with her timetable, it certainly doesn’t reflect poorly on the baby.
Fathers are not immune to this, but it manifests differently. It probably won’t be an elaborate party, but it might be an expensive vacation. “This kid better enjoy this, or else. I paid a fortune for this trip.” The family getaway becomes more of a threat than a gift. And again, we must ask: who were you doing it for?
Usually, the answer is that I was doing it for myself and not for the kids. I had some ideal of what a perfect family is supposed to look like, or I had pride in how great a provider I am. And when things don’t go the way I want, I take it as a personal insult.
There is nothing wrong with baby birthday parties or elaborate vacations, but don’t buy into the lie that you are doing it for someone other than yourself. Own it.
You might also like:
Foundation Father is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.