The Latest from the ABM Experts
October 29, 2019
How This Dad Runs Toward Joy (Instead of Chasing Happiness)
Written by Sangram Vajre
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As a father, raising respectful sons is one thing.
Raising strong daughters, however, always seems like an uninhabited frontier.
I, fortunately, have the absolute pleasure of taking on both scenarios as a dad. I get the chance to share my tips and tricks with Rob Roseman, the host of the Dad The Best I Can show, on the latest #TakeOverTuesday.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- Raising strong daughters and respectful sons
- Learning from strong women
- The difference between joy and happiness as a working parent
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Raising strong daughters as fathers
You were talking about your four-year-old daughter and you were telling your eight-year-old son she’s not bossy, she just has leadership skills, right?
Sangram: Yeah. It’s such a blessing to have a daughter as a guy because you get to see the world in a little bit different way than you might’ve seen growing up.
Having a daughter, all of a sudden you’re incredibly protective. I feel like if I didn’t have a daughter, I may not have the overly compulsive nature that I’m having right now.
I need to help my son be a better man. I want this to be instilled in him so he knows how he’s treating her. So, when he has a wife he does the same thing. And when she looks for a guy, she looks for the same thing.
The stereotypical view of what boys do and what girls do is so profoundly impactful that I was blown away. I think I made a point to make this known every day as much as I can.
The thing is, when boys do it, nobody calls them bossy. I asked my son why he called his sister bossy? He said, “Well, she’s a girl.”
And, I asked again, “Why do you call her bossy?” He had to put two and two together. He couldn’t articulate that to me. I think it just gets ingrained in people’s minds with everything around us.
When girls speak too much they’re bossy. And boys, oh, they’re strong. You go around the boys’ section and it’s Superman, Batman, heroes, all those things. Change the world, math scientists, all that.
And then you go on the girls’ section and you have stars, unicorns, pink, fairies, and all that stuff.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with a lot of those things, but if that’s the only thing they see, then of course boys are going to think they’re strong and powerful and all the things that come with it.
Then girls are going to think they’re just Barbie dolls and no different. We go to an extra extent to find in that corner in that store the shirts that say, I’m courageous, I’m strong, I’m bold. And we buy those shirts in addition to any other sparkly t-shirts because we want to instill that part in her mind and in others when they see her and talk to her.
I’m just recognizing it takes more effort than I thought it would.
Learning from strong women
What’s one thing you learned from your parents growing up that you’re now seeing?
Sangram: From my mom I’ve learned to work hard.
She is the hardest working person, keeping things together, just raising and helping all the time. I learned what it means to do real hard work and why it matters. So, my mom is my hero from a work perspective.
The difference between joy and happiness as a working parent
You had an episode where you were talking about the difference between joy and happiness and you articulated it really well. Can you talk a little bit about that and how we can apply that as dads?
Sangram: It is one of those ideas that took a while for me to even fully draft the difference. It’s a moving target in many cases for people.
A lot of times joy is a feeling that never goes away. I think the joy of having a kid, seeing the kid for the first time, the very first birthday will never be forgotten. Their very first job, no matter what it is.
The first time your kid actually rides a bike and you are part of that whole process of giving the confidence boost for your kid to do that by themselves, even though they were afraid and fearful. I think that is joy. And that is never-ending. It’s forever.
On the flip side, I think happiness is all about very temporary things like the promotion you longed for so much and you got it. Great, you’re happy. Throw a party, whatever.
Then, the next day you’re fine. It doesn’t stay with you forever. Now you look for the next promotion. It’s the same thing with a raise.
Joy is a forever concept.