With Father’s Day looming, it’s my duty to come up with related content on Grist, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we should best mark the occasion. A list of eco-friendly gift ideas? Nah, we did that last year — plus with all the other lists of eco-friendly Father’s Day gifts out there, that’s getting almost as stale as the classic tie-or-hankie conundrum anyway.
Maybe a round-up of our parenting advice? Like our Ask Umbra columns on diaperless parenting and the never-ending diaper ado and recycling car seats. Or our whole special series on parenting and health. Or Richard Louv’s tips for how to start a neighborhood nature club.
Or perhaps it would be best to highlight some of the fatherhood-related pieces we’ve had from guest contributors — like Marcelo Bonta’s reflection on his daughter and the diversity (or lack thereof) of the green movement; or John Kurmann’s struggles with whether to have children; or A. Carl Leopold’s memories of life with his famous father, Aldo.
But then I came across a piece our own David Roberts wrote last year. A piece he headlined — out of modesty, crabbiness, or because he was in a rush — “Ramblings for Father’s Day.”
I missed the piece when it first appeared — perhaps because I was editing twelve other things and just didn’t see it fly by, perhaps because I was a month away from the birth of my own first child and caught up in that. But I believe it deserves a re-airing. If I were to indulge in my own ramblings about why, you’d think I was trying to butter Dave up for something. So I’ll let (some of) it speak for itself:
The multi-billion-dollar parenting industry wants you to think that parenting is complex and technical and that you need expert advice to handle it. But I’ve discovered that it’s fairly simple. I’ve unlocked the grand secret. Are you ready? Here it goes:
If you want to be a good parent, be a good person.
There you have it. Children will model their lives on the lives they see. So model a good life.
Terrifying, right? Warming the diaper wipes is one thing, but living a good life? Being a good person? Who knows how to do that?
But there’s no way around it. You can tell them to manage anger constructively. You can tell them not to take more than their fair share. You can tell them that all people, even those most pitiable or aggravating, deserve empathy and respect. You can tell them that they should own their feelings and not be afraid or ashamed to express them. You can tell them that kindness is not weakness and that love can move mountains.
But if you react to your own anger with yelling or violence; if you hoard and begrudge resources; if you insult or berate others; if you are insensitive to those you love; if you bottle up your own feelings or attack perceived weaknesses in others — if you do that stuff, that’s what they do.
There’s more where that came from — and it’s the best “eco” advice you’ll get this Father’s Day. Go read it.