Dads, Are You an Expert or a Pro?

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June 15, 2012 by jooshanoosh

I always thought the words “expert” and “professional” meant essentially the same thing. This week, I was corrected. We were having a family discussion and my daughter Bella had some questions when the subject of performing arts came up. We discuss this topic from time to time since my wife Amelia works in film, I often work as an actor, and both the kids have shown some interest in it.

The discussion went something like this:

Bella what it meant to be a professional. Amelia said that being a professional means doing something you get paid to do. I confirmed. Aidan said that it means you do something for your job. Bella said something like “Oh, so you’re a professional stylist?” to Amelia which she confirmed and then Bella said,” So, Dad’s a professional actor?” and we said that basically yes I am a professional actor because I frequently get paid to act in commercials, films, and plays. Aidan then replied, “Being an expert is not the same as being a professional.” I could see his point because there are many actors, for example, who don’t get paid to act but who are very good at what they do. So, I said,”Yes, I have been acting and studying acting a long time and even though acting isn’t my day job, I am considered an expert at it.” Aidan looked at me. Then he sort of laughed. Then he said,”I mean, you’re pretty good, no offense.”

According to my 12 year-old, I’m a pro actor but not an expert. He was right about one thing. (Maybe everything?) There is a difference between being a professional and an expert:

Professional – A person engaged or qualified in a profession.

Expert – A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.
I don’t see a huge difference but it’s there. The interesting thing to me is that, while Aidan seems to think so, I don’t see a very wide gap between the two. I don’t really see one as being “better” than the other, just different.
So, as I was thinking about Father’s Day, I asked myself if I was a pro or an expert dad. I can see a pro dad showing up for their family, learning how to be better, providing for them, and engaging on every level he needs to. Pretty great right? I think you can decide to be a pro dad the day you get married or have a child. 
The expert dad would maybe be someone who has had the time to discover the nuances of being a father. Like what it takes to get the kids to go cheerfully to bed, or when a child needs him or their mother. Maybe the expert is someone who knows every difference between their kids and knows how to make each one feel like a special individual. He knows how to run the family in equal partnership with his spouse. He is humble about all the time he has spent as a dad and rather than proving he knows a lot, he just shows it by how much love he gives to his family. Often we don’t notice that the expert dad was even an expert until we become fathers or mothers ourselves. “I mean, I’m pretty good but …”
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