What You Inherit From Your Father

It’s pretty clear to anyone who knows me well that I am my mother’s daughter. I emulate her in many ways. I like to think I am a good listener and question-asker because of her decades-long career as a family and marriage therapist. However, I realized long ago that I share certain traits with my father as well. 

October 7, 2006

We argued a lot as I barreled through my teenage years. I knew it then, even if I didn’t want to admit it, that I am stubborn just like him. We both like to be right, and there were innumerable showdowns  in our kitchen. We would argue about anything. Looking back, I think we just argued to argue.

Like my father, I will opt for the scenic route home every time. Country roads, yes. Beltline and highways with industrial buildings, nope. I don’t care if it adds on a few miles or a handful of minutes. In my quaint hometown of Winona, MN, my dad would drive us by the Mississippi River whenever possible rather than go through town. My dad has a sweet tooth, and I cannot say no to dessert. I mean, I have some self-control. I won’t eat a chocolate-peanut-butter truffle at 10:00 am, but around 7:00 pm, my guard is pathetically down. I’m quick to anger but also quick to forgive. My dad does not seem to hold a grudge. I know it is easier and feels better to forgive.

My dad is a movie enthusiast, which makes shopping for his birthday and holidays pretty easy. I don’t really burn out on movie-watching in a day or weekend, and I’ll watch my favorites over and over. They don’t have to be Oscar contenders. Like my dad, I enjoy B-movies just as much as A-movies. We are both people-pleasers, which is to say, if someone is mad at us or doesn’t seem to like us, it’s the worst. We are also very fond of singing. As a child, I remember him singing randomly at home, usually only a line or two at a time. Guess what? I do that now too. A few years ago, we were even in a show choir together.

I could go on, but my point here is I hope my children take on some of my husband’s habits and traits. One of the reasons I chose to marry him is that I suspected he would be an excellent father. He is patient, kind, funny, and intelligent. Seeing him interact lovingly with our young niece helped confirm my suspicion.

Photo credit: Ji-Yeon Photography

So far, our boys share his fondness for video games, BBQ Pringles, and Star Wars. They certainly didn’t get their adoration of pizza from me. He’s actively trying to instill his love of roller coasters in them this summer, and so far, they’re warming up to it. (We highly recommend a day trip to Little Amerricka for getting little feet wet, literally and figuratively.)

I hope they inherit his sense of responsibility, even when the task at hand is neither fun nor easy. Lord knows, I do not possess that one. He has a mindset of work first, play later. My mindset is more play as much as possible and then some more, wait to work until the last possible moment. Which leads me to another trait I hope my kids emulate.

Punctuality is one of his strong suits—again, not amongst my many, many, MANY strengths. We yin and yang quite nicely timewise, at least from my point of view. And please, oh please, let them carry on their father’s steadfast tradition of never wearing socks and sandals together.

I want them to take on his calm demeanor. He rarely blows up, while I can’t exactly say the same for myself (see above re: quick to anger). We joke that he’s perpetually grumpy, but thankfully, he doesn’t rage. I want them to learn how to be a great husband, the kind who makes dinner so his spouse can linger in the bathtub and play mermaid. I hope they are generous and take the time to explain football over and over, if necessary. (He probably hopes they’ll marry someone who doesn’t ask so many football questions.)

He is quick with a joke or a sarcastic line. Unless it gets them into trouble, I hope my kids will pick that up too. Even if it makes their wives (or husbands!) roll their eyes and flash a rude hand gesture. One of the traits I envy in my beloved husband is his amazing ability to fall asleep within mere seconds of closing his eyes. I hope for their sake that my children inherit this talent. It will serve them well as adults, but I have yet to see this display itself most of the time.

Unfortunately, although not shockingly, they have inherited his knack for interrupting me in the kitchen while I’m trying to cook three things at once. And the annoying (selective?) habit of not being able to hear me at all times. I hope they are doting and helpful adult sons to their mother, as their father is. I hope they are practical, analytical, and not afraid to speak up for themselves.

Physically, I hope they inherit his perfect vision and his virtually cavity-free teeth, although so far, they both seem to be taking after me in those respects. I hope they take after him in his height and his crazy-fast metabolism. While I can’t clearly draw more than a heart or a cat face, my husband has natural artistic talents, and I relish seeing that developing in our children.

As much as I love seeing myself in our two young children, I love even more seeing their father reflected in them. I’m sure I’m not the only mom out there who appreciates seeing this. What do you hope your children inherit?

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