Ode to Fathers
My Mother's Day blog came quite naturally! Brandi and I make it a point to walk our talk, and clearly we have not experienced what it means to be a father. So, I hope I can do this topic justice.
As as a woman, a mother, and a relationship clinician, I know that the role of a father is incredibly important. As children, we look to our parents to meet all needs. There isn’t anything more needy than a human baby. I used to watch calves get up and eat minutes after being born in a snow drift. This is not at all how human development works. We are designed to need each other. We are built to bond. The relationship we have with our parents drastically impacts how we feel about ourselves and the world.
If a father provides a sense of safety, a child ends up feeling the world is a safe place to be. At 40, I can still say that I know my dad would show up for me if I ever needed anything. That is a gift. If a father treats his spouse and children with respect, a child learns what to expect in a relationship. Growing up with my dad and grandfathers as examples helped me find a kind and loving husband. It felt innate to me to find a respectful partner. If a father adds a little adventure to life, a child starts to believe the world is an exciting place, and that they are strong and capable. I have learned, over the years, to embrace change and to find adventure along the way. This formative stuff isn’t to be taken lightly, and I am forever thankful for my dad's impact on my life.
This week, I asked several dads about their greatest challenges/fears. It didn’t take me long to get a better sense for the pressures of fatherhood:
I feel the weight of trying to provide for everyone.
I know I am the model for my daughters on who they will choose in future relationships, and I don’t want to mess that up.
I am worried I don’t set strict enough boundaries. When do I say yes, and when do I say no. How many chores should they do.
I don’t get to see my family as much as I would like.
My ex doesn’t let me see my son as much as I would like, and I am worried he will quit wanting to see me.
Phew...these are not small fears, and they demonstrate that men understand the vital role they play as fathers. It seems what we see on TV and on social media often generalizes fathers as somewhat disengaged breadwinners who let their kids get away with anything. To be fair, there are men who meet this stereotype, but there are many, many more out there trying to intentionally navigate the journey of parenthood.
I just wanted to take a moment to give a big thank you to fathers. I hope you understand just how important you are. I know I wouldn't be where I am today without mine.