I would consider myself a young father not only because of my age, but considering my oldest child is only 3 1/2 years old, I am still building on my experience as one. Each day with my children however is a chance for me to take a step in a direction toward honing my craft. Fatherhood is a privilege, a revolving class where your grades are the successful progression of the stages of life by your children. The way I see it, just like any other class we may take, we must study, research, test and apply.
As we study, we see through them, much of what we were as a child, but this time, instead of being on the inside, we are on the outside looking in. We now, as fathers, stand above serving as guide, a virtual GPS application, knowing where we want them to go; showing them turns along the way. With careful attention, we can assist them in avoiding the obstacles we faced, while at the same time allowing them to hit traffic to build character, to learn patience, or take a chance avoiding their own obstacles.
Just last night, while at a dinner party, I observed the varying parenting styles in the house. Each father stood proud of their accomplishment, for their children were successfully interacting with each other. There was the father whose son, ran the house pushing a dump truck, fishtailing around each turn, accelerating the straightaways and spinning to a halt when called to task; while sitting inches from his daughter, protecting her from the world. There was the father completely engaged with his son, pulling him however from the other children in order to interact with him one-on-one. The first and only child of his, he sought to ensure he was entertained, and not being bullied by the older children. Then there I was, an observer. Keeping an eye on both my children correcting them with a look ("THE LOOK"), or a careful increase in tone as I called their names, as known as the "FATHER VOICE" (that is a super power along with "THE LOOK").
I knew from my interaction with my children that they would understand what I meant when they heard me say their names. It reminded me of when I was growing up. I could be on the other side of a park and hear my name being said, and stop whatever I was doing, because I was I knew I was caught. It was not what was said, but how it was said. My fathering technique is not unique. It is learned from my parents, my father.
When my first child was born, there was a feeling of achievement, for I had graduated from being a husband only, and had enrolled to pursue my Fatherhood Degree. I was then officially DAD to someone. I was then for the first time, in my opinion, considered an adult, at least to one person in the world, and now had to do my Fatherhood level research.
Fatherhood level research is much more serious than husband research. There are no 4 C's of Fatherhood, like those when researching the perfect diamond. There is no divorcing your children if you are a FATHER, not just a DAD, because walking away from your children is worse than ending your life. Any man can be a dad, but only those who work on it can be a father. By definition, dad is an informal version of father, and I see it as such. To my children I am their dad, because they don't know any different at this point in their lives, but to adults, I wish to be seen as their father.
My first class as a father was a cake walk, Learning to Love Your Child 101. As I watched him emerge from his chrysalis, waiting to hear his first sounds, I held my breath, and as soon as his voice filled the room I began mapping his development. It was as if his voice unlocked a box in my head labeled fatherhood, with a note attached stating, make sure your are ready and a postscript mentioning, this is forever. It was amazing, as this abundance of information flooded my brain, filling in gaps I thought I had forgotten, but must have been unconsciously storing away for later use.
Now that my son has a sister, and they are getting older by the second, I now reach out for more support, actively searching for guidance and opinions, while simultaneously sharing my experiences. Each week I attend and co-facilitate sessions of a Father to Father Group. I love this group not only because I can share my experiences, and gain insight from the other fathers, but because I am able to share it with my Father. Through these sessions, I get to hear how he feels as a father of adults, how he feels about his experiences without a father growing up and how they shaped his opinions. It is amazing. Since beginning to attend these groups, I have to admit, I was more of an observer, taking part but not action. This year one of my New Year Resolutions is to take action as a father, starting with patience. This is part of the Test and Apply responsibilities of being a father.
I will let you know how it turns out! Until next time...ttfn (ta ta for now)!