The following was syndicated from Medium for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at TheForum@Fatherly.com.
There is this unwritten rule that is rarely talked about. The minute you start having children all of your hopes and dreams go away and your life’s work becomes raising a family.
Every now and then it slips out and you will hear people say something like, “It’s time to grow up, I have to feed these kids.” or maybe, “I’m a mom now, that career is for single people.”
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Things change immediately when you have this dependent little person to feed. You should always be responsible. Make sure that whatever you do there is always food, clothing, and shelter for your kids.
What I am saying is stop using the babies as an excuse for quitting on your dreams!
For some reason we have collectively agreed that life stops once you become someone’s parent. The truth is parenthood can look however you want it to look. There are some bad ass parents traveling the world with babies on their back right now as you read this. They did not let their children stop them from their adventures, they brought them along. I encourage you to do the same.
If it wasn’t your children, you would find something else to stop you from going for it. Everyone loves to hide behind their kids because it is an acceptable excuse. Not only is it an acceptable excuse, but most of your friends will applaud you for stepping up and being a “responsible” parent.
If they grow up with a defeated man that has resigned himself to an average life, they are going to absorb that and do the same thing.
I am writing this to tell you that it is not an acceptable excuse. I know because I am a new father and I was tempted to hide behind my kid as well. Before my child was born, I had quit my job to become a photographer/writer. Once he was born, I was tempted to go back to my old industry to look for stable work. Thank God I had a few people tell me not to hide behind my kid. I still got a steady job, but it was a flexible job that allowed me to still pursue my writing and photography.
Here is what I really want you to understand: when you gracefully bow out of the game in the name of parenthood, you hurt your kids more than you help them. Kids are huge antennas and pick up your vibe. If they grow up with a defeated man that has resigned himself to an average life, they are going to absorb that and do the same thing. Now imagine those same kids growing up with someone who is in love with their craft. What kind of kids would that produce?
I have a friend whose dad owns his own business. My friend told me he has never heard his dad complain about his work… ever. To this day his dad still works 12 hour days not because he has to (the business is a success), but because he loves what he does.
I want my children to talk about me that way to their friends. I want them to grow up seeing their dad doing the work he wants to do. Not the work he has to do.
This is why I write.
This is why I create.
This is why I am sharing this message with you.
Do not hide behind your kids. Show them what it looks like to courageously pursue your dreams.
Gregory Gibbs has been known to occasionally gain favor with the writing gods, and he uses their favor to write about his own experiences.