Father's Day always gets me thinking about my husband and his relationship with his father. Or, rather, his lack of relationship with his father. Some of you know the details; many of you do not.
In a very small nutshell: his mom died, his dad remarried, he ended up in a children's home.
Obviously, I left out a lot of details. Very ugly details. Details that made me angry and broke my heart when I first learned of them. Even now, 12 years after I heard the story, I still question why.
But the purpose of this post is not to fill you in on the sordid details.
The purpose of this post is to tell you that everyone makes his own decisions.
I've heard many times that "you're a product of your environment.," and I do believe that to be true. Mostly. Your habits, actions, way of thinking, emotions are all influenced by your surroundings. I can see traits of my mother in me--the way I fold clothes, the way I organize my bookshelves, the way I cook--just like I can see my influence in my children. After all, the Bible teaches us in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Your influences, as a child especially, will greatly impact your life.
But you still have to make your own decisions.
A rough childhood with poor examples is no excuse to continue down the same path.
You've heard the stories about the men who abandoned their families, because their fathers did. The fathers who were drunkards or druggies, because that's all they knew. The mothers who neglect their children, because that's what they experienced as little girls. Too often as a society, we allow the poor choices of another generation dictate our actions today. It's an excuse to do wrong. After all, it's much easier to blame someone else for your bad decisions.
We shouldn't just accept it as fact, though, with an understanding and sympathetic nod. I know that it must be difficult to make proper choices when you haven't been taught how--sheesh, it's not always easy to make proper choices even when you have been taught how--but people need to hold themselves more accountable.
I knew, long before we ever had kids, that Leighton was not going to be one of those men. He wasn't going to follow in his father's footsteps. He wasn't going to be another one to use his painful past as a template for his future. Had I seen any of those characteristics, even in the smallest sense, I would not have married him.
Instead, he became the father I knew he would. He's loving, hardworking, and slow-to-anger. He's a good provider, our spiritual leader, and the head of our home. He's a hands-on-dad and a faithful husband.
He did not naturally have all of those tendencies because he saw them throughout his childhood. They were not just "second nature" because he had a perfect example as a child.
He made the decision to be a good dad. And I think it's a pretty good indicator that he's doing a great job just by reading what his children say about him.
I know it might sound cliché, but I am so proud of my husband. Every time I hear of someone else who succumbed to the struggles of the past, I always think of him. His strength, his resolve, his unbelievable forgiveness, and his unfailing love.
He made his own decisions. And he chose wisely.