But for Bobby being particularly angry with me and me not having worked out why, it’s been a steady week on the home front. I have learnt not to take it personally and to not expect there to be any particular reason for it. I give him the opportunity to talk to me at bed time when he’s settled and I show him that it’s ok to be upset with me, I would like to know the reason for it but if it just passes with little explanation, that’s ok too.
I have made a habit of reacting to the good stuff and only observing the things that are less desirable but part and parcel of parenting. It’s very ‘law of attraction’ (the notion that your thoughts become things, so if you concentrate on the positive, that’s what you’ll get more of) but it works, the less I judge him (because as a coach I’ve learnt that questions rather than advice is the best way to help someone see what they need to learn) the more open he is with me, the safer he feels to express himself emotionally and not suppress any grief or pre-teen emotions.
We can all try and be less judgemental, something we were conditioned to becoming as kids, it’s actually very normal for us to be quite judgemental but when you become aware of the amount we do it, and start questioning whether it does more harm than good, we can make some wonderful improvements to our children’s lives.
This kind of thinking probably classifies me as a ‘modern dad’ which was exactly what a survey released this week by Care.com was all about. The statistic that particularly stood out for me was that 62% of modern dads said they were enjoying a closer relationship with their children than they had with their own fathers and I found it very interesting to consider why that might be?
Not so long ago, it used to be commonplace that fathers went out to work while mum was at home, leaving her to do the cooking, cleaning and childcare. It sounds so old fashioned now but the extent of the dads role in the child’s life, other than to financially support, was often just to find some common interest at the weekend, and even that didn’t exist for some, so there was clearly a lot to improve on!
Then along came the desire for equality within relationships, women quite rightly started taking up careers in greater numbers, appreciating they could make choices that were once not so socially acceptable and before you know it, dads started to become more hands on and more present in the day to day upbringing of their kids.
I would have disliked being a dad 20 or more years ago because I think they possibly missed out. How unfulfilled I would have potentially been if all my role consisted of was to go and earn the money and come home expecting dinner to be ready, paying little attention to the emotional needs of my children. I would choose the modern approach to being a dad each and every time, knowing that when they are grown up, I can congratulate myself on not just financing them, but being a part of every element of raising kids from top to bottom, inside out.
I fear for some dads that they don’t see the satisfaction you can get by being more hands on, how wonderful it is to read a story to them at bedtime or to sit and listen to their concerns in order to make them feel better. Dads were typically emotionally unavailable in the past, modern dads are increasingly learning to listen, nurture and guide.
My theory is that generationally we are usually compensating for what we didn’t have; I didn’t get to meet my biological father and so missed out on making that connection to the other 50% of where I came from. Naturally I feel this is a shame but I take pride in the fact that for what I might have missed out on, I have actually gained in certain respects because I am a much more of a modern dad as a result. I often consider how without this start to my life I possibly wouldn’t have been quite so mentally prepared to bring the boys up on my own?
I think it’s great to take positives from negative situations and on Saturday I will be running a workshop for Mind Charity to help people discover their own positivity despite negative circumstances; a skill I have developed within myself. It is so easy for us to be affected and to limit ourselves in life as a result, but I believe the extent of the damage is always our choice, it’s not the incident but the way we deal with it that puts us on a particular path there after.
For ‘modern dads’ to become more hands on, does that mean ‘modern mum’ is less so? Not less than the father necessarily, but less so than your mum was with you? Do you see it as a good thing that your children are getting almost equal benefit from both parents or would it be more preferable for all of the child’s emotional and physical needs to be met by mum?
Whichever way you look at it, I see some incredible role model fathers out there, I’m not just talking about your celebrity types led in my opinion by David Beckham and his beautiful bunch, Im talking about your regular guy doing the supermarket thing, doting on their children, taking responsibility and mucking in with the day to day aspects being the Dad that they want to be irrespective of stereotypes.
I also think a lot of grandparents are so hands on with their grandkids because there is a part of them that is enjoying the chance to make up for a few things they didn’t do as parents themselves. Time spent being the biggest regret for some i suspect.
That’s my final point really. Regardless of how young your kids are, Imagine they are all grown up and have left home, don’t leave yourself any room for regret, aim to have that complete sense of satisfaction from a job well done, don’t regret having worked too much and missing out on all of those sports days and nativities because they are precious moments you will want to look back on one day and be able to say you were there.
I’m as close to being both mum and dad as a parent could ever be, and while that certainly means my hands are full, so is my heart. What I’m doing for these boys in my role as a modern dad will fuel me with positivity and pride for the rest of my life. That’s my motivation, what’s yours?