Am I really the "Best Dad"? Being a father is not something they teach you in school. No exam authorities offer qualifications in fatherhood. How you operate as a father comes from deep within, usually informed by your experience of your own father and observations of other male role models.
A lot of it is about gut instincts. It's not as if you work out a plan. Mostly you just go with the flow.
Nobody is perfect and I know that I made some mistakes along the way but the fact that my grown up children now love and respect me proves that I must have got most of it right.
Above everything else, I wanted them to be happy, well-rounded people with minds of their own. I wanted them to be respectful of others - no matter what their station in life might be and I wanted them to feel equal to all other people too. Now that they are both in their thirties, I am delighted to observe that these aspirations have been met.
I know of at least three people who regularly read this blog whose relationships with their own fathers were difficult to say the least. They look back with understandable bitterness, drawing a veil over times that are best forgotten. It is so sad and I feel for those readers, I really do. How wonderful it would be if we could all have happy, secure childhoods overseen by loving parents who treat us kindly and point us in the right direction.
My own father was like that and I thank him for showing me how to be a good father. I trusted him, loved him and respected him. Perhaps he learnt the rudiments of fatherhood from his own father. And so it goes on through the generations. Thinking of cruel, fearsome or abusive fathers - perhaps they also inherited their loathsome habits from previous generations. That is not to forgive them, just to offer a partial explanation.
Being a father should not be onerous. There should be much joy and laughter along the way. Fatherhood should enrich your life and not curtail it or weigh heavily upon you. I can say in all honesty that being Ian and Frances's father is the best thing that ever happened to me.