A look at themes

 I’ve spent the last few months asking men,  women, and children the age-old question of what exactly is meant by the word dad? I got quite a staggering amount of answers but mostly they revolved around three very important themes. 

Theme One:  mostly summed up by the word loyal. That is loyal to both the children and the spouse and I found that loyalty can look like different things depending on the optics of the person who is looking, for example when dad is reinforcing a disciplinary action that mom dished out, this is the type of loyalty that the kids view as a betrayal… The playful guy that will give you a wink and maybe laugh under his breath at the joke you made or the thing you may have broken to kind of reaffirm that yeah we’re still bud’s even though you messed up…  it’s something that can be at odds with the consistency of the parenting overall. When one parent decides what a punishment should be they must back each other up or the child becomes confused about whether or not what they did was inappropriate and they also start to develop a bond with a more agreeable parent, or worse, pit one against the other. 

Theme 2 Strong…  A lot of times in this day and age we do not have a stay at home parent we have both parents doing whatever they can to make all the ends meet and dots connect. Sometimes it’s a decision that has to be made which parent goes to work and sometimes it’s just a circumstance that dictates what parent works and which stays home. There is no longer a model that suggests one is appropriate over the other- so, good bye male  chauvinism, and good riddance!!  We are faced with turning everything upside down and looking at it and its most basic level… We have to re-examine the role that parents play in the lives of their children. I have personally been involved in conversations where I felt as though the person was taking me by the hand instead of explaining it to me as one adult to another… this is largely a result of the mother being the dominant child provider in years and decades past, meaning mom took the kids to the doctors, register them for school, etc. so when people see child with the dad they are assuming that this information will be relayed to Mom and Mom will then translated into a language that dad can understand if explaining it at all. As is the case with single parents that happened to be the child’s dad it can often lead to stressful encounters with service providers..  this can also serve as a opportunity to open a dialogue between the present parent and the service provider in general to help change that dialogue to not only encourage but also educate the father. This never felt deliberate to me meaning that I never felt as though someone was speaking slower so that I would understand for example it always felt to me like the person that was addressing me as the single father was uncomfortable with the fact that it was the dad they were talking to and usually I turned this into an opportunity to joke and open up the dialoge.  As a single parent who happens to be the father you definitely have to take a little bit more on the chin in a different way that a single mother has to do… They are equally difficult tasks and are equally frustrating in their own way, but because we are speaking specifically about fatherhood in general let’s turn our attention back to that.. 

 It can be said that the strength comes from the Dad‘s inherent want to provide. Mom is traditionally the protector and dad traditionally the provider… But as I’ve said we have to get beyond these time honored stereotypes and move more toward the realm of role reversal but not just roll reversal complete role assumption! We have to assume the roles of both, and perhaps we always should have been doing this in the first place.  It can be argued quite easily that in order to provide you also are protecting and vice versa what matters is that the children don’t make the distinction between who’s doing what and that all they received is the unconditional support and love that they need in order to thrive, being strong also means being humble  and in being humble also means being open to knowing that you are holding a responsibility that is both shaping and informing your children. Strength implies vulnerability lay somewhere around and I believe that that vulnerability is a space that enables a great deal of bonding experiences for you and your children. 

Theme 3 Love…  The most crucial ingredient in any relationship is always going to be rooted in love. While it is true that love makes you do strange things, it is also true that unconditional love for your children can also create a multitude of difficult emotions to work through… As we have stated earlier simply the act of reinforcing a punishment when that is not in your nature to do is also an act of love.  Being consistent, being transparent and supportive of schedules, routines, family traditions etc.… When your children make a mistake there has to be a consistency with how that is addressed. Mostly all of the people I spoke to said the other one is the disciplinarian… this really resonates with me because I am not nor was I ever a disciplinarian type person but it’s important to remember that whoever that person is that creates the disciplinary action that it is  enforced equally which as I said is an act of love, tough love is not easy for anyone but it’s crucial in these times. 

 I’m sure you can get the idea that the moment that you have children you engage in a partnership, partnerships almost inherently come with a hierarchy… You have to retain this by establishing the parameters as well as educating and perhaps most importantly living your truth, or to put it another way being the best example your kids have to learn from. Teaching the basic rules of not only your family but the community that you live in is crucial to helping shape who your children will become and that starts the moment they start absorbing the environment that they’re in.  What you allow them to see, what you allow them to experience, and what you allow them to eventually do has to stem from those three main themes that they’ve learned before they become independent young little people. They have to know loyalty, strength and love.  I have spoken to quite a few parents that say their kids do whatever they want and they have no control over them… This might seem like the case but ultimately you’re the one that sets those parameters! Reigning in unruly kids isn’t easy by any measure… but at some point someone is going to have to or they are going to spin out of control and most likely end up hurting themselves or somebody else.  The moment you give up on your kids and exclaim that they do whatever they want and you don’t have control means that you’ve given up on them and releasing them into the big bad world where they’ll exist in a perpetual survival mode, which makes them volatile and usually hostile. They feel betrayed and also unwanted. That’s a scary place to be, both for them and for the rest of the community. To think, all we had to do is try, put in the effort and the time, let love and loyalty give us the strength to persue the greatest part of being a Dad or parent in general, and that is- releasing an intelligent, well adjusted, empathetic person into this floating ball of water who just may go on to become the very best friend the world can have, all thanks to a little thing called parenting… (::)