By Dr. Manish Madan
There are moments at work when I feel like dropping it all to just get back home to my two little ones who will run to the door screaming, ‘daddddy!’ Like many other fathers, I treasure being dad to two beautiful girls. Contributing to the series on “The Joy of Fatherhood,” I share with my girls some of the life lessons that I have learned and wish to pass them on. Seeing those values in you as you grow old will certainly add to my joy:
1. Friendship: If there is a relationship above all, it is friendship. Some will argue, it is parent-children, husband-wife but you will find as you grow older, all these relationships are cherished the most when they are grounded on the foundation of ‘friendship.’ We are your parents and that is a fact, but we want to be your best friends. As friends, we will have more joy, I will be cracking never- ending dad jokes with you both, and obviously get ridiculed, for it will be my calling – but isn’t that what all friends do when they get together! Importantly, when you will see people around you as ‘friends,’ you will see each other as equals. You will learn to value your friendship and every relation founded on the bond of friendship.
2. Love: I get the most Joy of Fatherhood when I can love you and you reciprocate that to me and your mom. But there will also come a time when you will find yourself in love with someone other than us, or someone falling for your beautiful heart! Trust me, it will be the best feeling in the world and it will be a joy of my living experience to see you go through the phase! I will wait for you both to cherish those moments. Let no one, including your mom or me tell you, who you should or should not fall in love with. My only suggestion is get to know someone worthy of your intelligence and for who you are, and not for your physical appearance. Fall for someone’s intelligence, emotional quotient, and empathy. Beyond that, I will trust your judgement and your decision. Importantly, I want you to be empowered with every decision you will make in your life, and know that every decision you will make will be yours to live with. I will pray, through our parenting, friendship and good education, you will become two beautiful individuals who will take responsible decisions. Rest assured, I will always be watching over you!
3. Heartbreak: Often, you will find love and heartbreak goes hand-in-hand. Sorry but that’s how it is! I wish you do not have to experience anything but love in your life but should some a$$hole break your heart; that’s the nickname s/he will be awarded with for the rest of our life from your father ;). And yes, my arms will be there to give you world’s best hug, always and forever and of course tubs of ice cream at 3 am! Now, if you end up breaking someone’s heart, I will ask, you do it respectfully honoring the love you once had. Everyone responds differently to different and difficult situations. Talk to the person respectfully and do not engage in name-calling, do not wish for negative things for them, do not just ignore, do not escape from the situation – face it, look in the eyes of the other person, and importantly deal with it honestly. Either ways the love and heartbreak goes, do not question yourself. Let no one tell you, you were not good. Remember the good times, cherish the happy moments, reflect on them with positivity, learn from them, and move on. Let it make a better person out of you.
4. Success & Failure: As you will grow up, you will find everyone defines success and failures differently. I have learned to see success as a distance between the ‘lowest and highest moments.’ Where you come from, and how far you have reached – that is a success. No success worth noting or public adulation will come your way without a failure or many failures in your armory. And I want you to see every failure as a stepping stone to a success coming your way. The joy of fatherhood will come when I will see you using failure as a trampoline that will push you higher and possibly toward your next success. Remember and learn to celebrate every success and failure with the same passion – never let a moment of failure bring your spirits down and in the same breath, never let the success lose your stability, your humility, your kindness, and your desire for yearning for more. Never leave an opportunity to learn from both failures and successes, and never ever throw in the towel. Initially, your success will start to define who you are but then how you use your success will define what more you are capable of doing. With every success and failure, I want you to become the better version of yourself, and that brings me to my sharing next joy of fatherhood I will achieve through my girls.
5. Give it Back: Look at your surroundings, see how you can make them better! You and your peers will be leaders of tomorrow, you will be making important decisions, perhaps you will be making decisions impacting communities, more people than you can think. That said, being able to give back is a privilege and not everyone is privileged enough to be a giver in the first place. I pray, you will reach such heights to enable you to give back and make a difference in many peoples’ lives. I have no doubt, both of you will bring that joy to my being your father!
6. Love People, Love All Colors: You are a part of diverse environment that thrives on people of all color, race, gender, sexuality, and beliefs. Remember human beings are born, and other than natural stuff like rivers, mountains, trees etc., everything else is pretty much a social construction, i.e., which religion do you belong to, your race etc. … Irrespective of barrage of such questions, I want you to learn to respect all people, love all colors and value everyone as one equal creation under the Sun. Now, there will be moments when you will be treated differently for who you are or what your skin color is, but let that not define, who you really are – “a beautiful, compassionate intelligent, and empathetic human being!” There will be days when you will start to question how a few people will treat you or another person of color differently. I wish that not to happen to you or in your generation but as your father it is my duty to alert you and share how to deal with it, if indeed it does happen with you. Short answer: for every one such person around you, you will find 99 other people who will love you for who you are – surround yourself with them, overlook the singleton; remember to stay away from negativity? And then if possible, try being a part of a change that will accept everyone for who they are, notwithstanding where they come from, what sexuality they relate to, what color is their skin, what race does someone belong to. Love one, love all.
7. Believe in yourself: Now I must alert, you will be judged more harshly than your male peers for what you wear, who do you hang out with, what you eat, what you don’t! Let no one tell you any of this non-sense. Let no one tell, you cannot do a certain thing just because you are a girl. Let no one define your character, for you are the one to define it, nobody else. I want you to believe in yourself, have high ambitions, aspire to achieve big things – again with one goal of making this world a much better place than what you are acquiring. While every generation has worked hard to make the world a better place, but know that your generation will have its own challenges and on no place on this earth, let anyone tell you that you cannot solve them because you are woman. My joy will come when I see my baby girls as part of the many solutions needed in the world.
8. Education First: Now, this is your Professor father talking. Single most aspect of our existence that can make a significant difference in the lives around is through education. As your parent, we will try our best to provide you the best resources for a good education but it will be on you to take it further. If any difference you will want to make in someone’s life, in world, you will need education to back you. Seeing you getting educated from best of what the world has to offer will be a joy indeed to see!
9. Hard Work & Dedication: Remember I spoke about success and failure – both will depend on this. As you grow up, you will find countless examples of success followed by hard work and dedication and you will be no different. My joy as a father will come when I will see you value that there is no other substitute to hard work and dedication. Let these traits make a better person out of you and bring us lifelong joy!
10. Commitment & Persistence: Once you commit to something, give it all that you have! Leave no stone unturned and leave nothing that may come back later as a regret where you say – ‘I wish I tried that!’ Remember, “when all else fails, persistence prevails.” Your commitment to your surroundings, your friends, your relationship, your work, education and your persistence to becoming the best in everything you do, will define who you are. My joy of fatherhood will know no bounds but to see you both shining through your life.
11. Do Good When You Can: If you cannot help someone, do not ever go out to harm or hurt them. Find ways to do good when you can or even when you cannot, find a way to do good! Each day, work toward bringing a positive change in someone’s life.
12. Humor: By the time, you will be reading this, you will have suffered through enough of dad jokes and I would hope you would have acquired some of my lame humor! So, that brings me to my final piece of life long lesson, “find humor in life!” Do not ever hesitate to laugh on any small little or anything big that you may find funny – importantly sure enough, find a way in the ones that you don’t find funny, or that is stressing you out. Find the humor – it is an instant therapy to keep a sane mind, a happy heart and a happier life.
You have already given me enough reasons to feel the joy of being your father, and with every little thing you do, I will continue to feel the joy! I will always be there watching out for your happiness in life … I love you both!
Dr. Manish Madan is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at
Stockton University in New Jersey. To read more, please log on to
Printed in the November 27 - December 10, 2016 edition.