Ever since I was a little boy I've known two things. I knew that I wanted to be a father, and I knew that I wanted to get married. Of course when your 5, of 6 years old you really have no idea what a big responsibility either one of those is. But that was really all that I saw around me. My parents, and just about all of my aunts, my uncles, and cousins, got married and had kids. It just seemed like what I was supposed to do.
Many years, 1 wife, and 3 kids later I have come to realize that raising children is one of the few things in my life that is an even better experience than I imagined. Keep in mind that better does not necessarily mean easy. It just means that there was a time when I looked into the eyes of my oldest child and wondered if I could do it. I had aspirations of raising my son to be the perfect man, and then raising my daughters to be perfect women, but I realized one day that I have no idea what perfect actually is because I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. So my expectations, both in my own ability as a father, and in my children, though well intentioned, were unreal.
The best that I can do is try to raise them to be exceptional, productive, people and in doing so I have found out that each one of my children have their own unique strengths, and flaws. I love cultivating those strengths and helping them work on their flaws.
The one thing that I never imagined was that being a father would make me a better man. My children study everything that we do. The reason I use the word study is because all three of them pay close attention to our actions and then emulate us in some ways. Actions, words, and deeds are all fair game. I do not take my job as a father/role model lightly because I know that once I send my children out into the world they are a direct reflection of home. Knowing this, I strive to teach them sometimes, without even saying a word. I let my actions speak for themselves. My daughters never see me doing anything but honoring and respecting their mother, so that they have an idea of how a man should treat them, and my son always sees me conducting myself as an honorable, responsible man. So that he knows all that a man is, and should be. It is never enough for me to tell them how to behave. I must be an example of that behavior. This forces me to be a better man because the stakes are higher and their ability to thrive hangs in the balance. They have taught me things about myself that I could have never learned without them, and I will continue to teach them things about themselves that they could have never learned without me.