My dearest friends have sometimes explained that I can be stubborn. My children smile with a knowing look as if to agree. My counter view is that I am resolute. “Dogmatic!” offer the other parties. I claim steadfast. They say “staunch”, and I say “determined.”

When things are important to me, I will hold to them tightly. I do this especially with my parenting. I often have a sense of being profoundly purposeful with the parenting of my two earthly angels. The end result is that I am strongly driven to teach and care and coach and love my daughters for them to be able to set out confidently into adulthood.  Ironically, I am well into adulthood and still forming my own wisdom, yet I expect to be my daughters’ parental guide with all the answers.

My adulthood is still a place of exploration and discovery. Even now, I search into my parenting to find the things that stir me into wanting to be the best dad. So, I have asked myself, “Just what are the ‘things’ that you would hold tightly?”

Personal Principles

My wisdom to know the answer has been a plodding excavation rather than a profound revelation. I have finally become consciously aware of my VALUES! Values are those ‘things’ that hold me convicted to do the right thing by me, my children, friends and even my ex. My values are mine and typically a tad different to those of everyone else who walks this good earth.

I know my values, and how my set of values comes into play depending on context. At home, I value health and hard work. In my career, I value excellence, discipline and determination. As a dad, I value care, honesty and love. I rely on my dad values to guide my parenting behaviour.

I hold my values tightly because many of them come from the wholehearted family fold that has been a profound influence on me — my grandparents especially.

But, what of a partner – now an ex – who holds parenting values that are visibly different to mine? If I am secure in my values and believe that my values are right, then am I to judge that hers are wrong?  Suddenly it seems that I have created the polarising circumstance of right and wrong.

Working Together

Instead, what if my plodding excavation uncovered the ability to move from right and wrong, to believing that her values and my values can exist together? After all, if my children can adapt to different house rules, maybe they can adapt to incorporating mum’s and dad’s values into their life. My reasoning tells me they would have done so, had we crafted a successful marriage.

So, now I am trying to hold my values a little more lightly. I am trying to cup them in my hand rather than tightly cling them to my chest. They are still incredibly important to me and guide my parenting behaviour. Instead of holding my values as mine that are right, I am moving to realise that wholehearted parents all settle into values that are right for them. If happily married parents can meld their values, could my values and those of my ex somehow blend, instead of being squeezed so tightly as to cause conflict that is so unhealthy for my children?

My ex brings the influence of her values to my children. Of course, she should be allowed to. At the same time, it creates my latest single-parenting challenge… moving from “my values are right” to “let’s live with dad’s values as well as mum’s values.” If I can do that, I trust that my precious daughters will be shaped into wonderful adults.


Photo by Yan Krukau.

Published On: June 27th, 20230 CommentsTags: , , ,

About the Author: Greg McInerney

Greg is the father of two daughters.

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