Just like friendships and relationships, parenting is one of those things that doesn’t come with a manual. And I think that’s in part, due to the fact that people are infinitely variable. Sure, there are tests you can do that tell you what kind of personality you have, if you’re introverted or extroverted, type a or type b, or some sort of colour or animal. Ultimately though, humans are emotive, feeling beings. There are people out there that will try and tell you they are a ‘logical person’, but logic is built on what they feel is logical, so logic is also emotive.
Anyhow, the actual topic I’m writing about is parenting, not logic. I have a tendency to get distracted and wander off down a nice country lane. On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go to a parenting seminar aimed directly at Dads, or father type figures, and you know what? It was excellent! There are a lot of support networks readily advertised for mums, especially mums with newborns. Before you discharge from hospital after delivering the newest addition to the family, mums are bombarded with a plethora of information about the support and courses that are available to them within the local community. Mothers groups, play groups, etc.
Not so the case for Dads. Aren’t our roles (granted they are drastically different) as equally important as each other? In fact, I’ve mentioned to Mel on a number of occasions that its only the fact I don’t have the required equipment to feed Flynn that stops me. There is almost a slight hint of jealousy towards the bonding that happens during breast feeding. Its such a powerful thing to watch. And quite funny when your son is using your wife’s nipple as a teething chew toy!! I’ll probably pay for that. Hah!!
I’ll pop some links in at the bottom of this post to some of the organisations that were involved in the workshop.
There is a massive expectation within our culture that men are the strong, stoic, stable emotionless rock of the family. Completely devoid of any kinds of soft feelings and the sole disciplinarian of the family. I can remember back to my own childhood, my brother and I would be playing up (as boys do) and mum would threaten us with ‘just you wait until your father gets home’. It was enough to strike fear into the hearts of the toughest warrior! Eventually, dad would get home, mum would fill him in and punishment was often swiftly and painfully dealt out. I’ve caught myself doing the same thing with our eldest son, Lucas, and imp not proud of it. But as within relationships, we learn how to parent from our own parents. People tend to go through life thinking ‘I’ll never do this or that to my kids or spouse’, but then never go about learning how to do things differently.
The life you have now, right this very moment, is the result of the information you have received, things you have learnt AND applied, and the decisions you have made up until this very moment. What does that mean? It means, putting it bluntly, that if you’re not happy with your life, then you have only one person to thank, and you will only find that person in the reflection of your bathroom mirror.
If you want to change your life, then you have to change your thinking.
‘When you change the way you think, you change the way you feel. When you change the way you feel, you change the way you act. When you change the way you act, you change the way your life.’
In order to change our lives, we must change the way we act, to do that we need to change how we think. To change the way we think, we need to learn some new information because if we don’t, then we run the risk of staying the same, and that my friends, is devastating. I’m by no means perfect. I fail at something everyday, but failing means I’m trying. Trying to be better than I was yesterday. Trying to be better than I was this morning. There have been plenty of days where I’ve been a less than average acting dad. There have also been days when I’ve absolutely bloody won at it too. And that all starts with learning to be present and live in the moment. Who cares if things aren’t perfect? No one, and nothing is. Even in the most precise engineering fields there is always a + or – tolerance for fitment of parts. Perfection is an impossible thing to achieve.
Being present and vulnerable is a bloody good start though.
Back to the original point of the post. There are a few resources out there for Dads and they’re becoming more readily available. Check out the links below for more information!
The Fathering Project – The Fathering Project is a core partner of The University of Western Australia who have provided significant support since our inception including administrative, financial, research and support services through the Office of Development and Faculty of Medicine.
4 Dads – Dads Supporting Dads – The 4dads program offers information, education, referrals and support for fathers of children up to 18 years in the Mandurah and Pinjarra areas.
There are a few books that I personally can recommend. Reading them really opened my eyes up to what it really means to be a man, and believe me. Being a man isn’t about being strong, tough, silent and stoic all the time. Your kids need to see your emotions, they need to see that its OK to be scared, happy, sad or confused.
All these books helped me immensely in understanding my role not just a father, but as a husband and role model. Blokes are so scared to show their true emotions for fear of being ridiculed or that its weak to do so. Scared of being a sissy. No wonder why suicides and mental health issues in young males is so high!
So, men, it’s time to really man up! Talk about our feelings, fears and dreams with other men! Lets show our kids what it really means to be a man. Let them grow up with a true role model right in their own home. Not these false prophets touting fame and fortune on social media!
I think that’s enough of me on my soapbox for now.
If you want to share your thoughts on anything I have said, please, feel free to contact me through here. I’d love to hear from you.
Take care, and all the best in your endeavours!