1 Key to being a Great Dad
Every man can easily be a fantastic father. But there is one really important key to being that dad, that too many men don’t know. As a result, too many families struggle unnecessarily in an imbalanced system in which no one is getting their needs met. Fortunately, this one key is quite clear and thus something that you can easily do day in and day out.
As I discussed in our main video Why Modern Families Struggle, all too often the modern family falls apart in the face of the imbalance that is epidemic in our society. The lack of clarity about what our role should be as fathers, combined with inadequate societal support for equally engaged fathers and the normal self-doubt about our ability to equally nurture our kids, often leads to us being second-class parents. At the same time, it typically leads to the moms being over-empowered and overburdened with too much of the responsibility. They unfortunately are often left having to nag us for support. Under the strain of these weights, our families suffer way too much and our children aren’t getting the joyful, thriving, and balanced family they need.
The problem is really seen in the moment of birth. Both parents are typically scared about their ability to provide for their first baby. But out comes the child and the moms quickly find their way as they realize their ability to provide and nurture. If they have any problems, there is a fleet of people to support them to get empowered. Meanwhile, we fathers stand back in our insecurity, inadequate external support and lack of clarity of our role.
Not knowing what to do, we generally support the relationship between the mom and the baby, but we are not building our relationship with our child. The doctors and nurses focus on supporting the mom and nobody’s there to support us to find our way. This quickly leads to a situation where the mom is having to do too much, and anytime the baby has a problem we easily hand it off to her because she knows so much more as the result of her external support and the experience she is quickly gaining.
How do we not go down that road where we end up being a second-class parent? How do we have a system where we are equally empowered with our partners to provide for our babies, and thus not overtaxing our partners?
The key to preventing all of this from happening is to step into the unknown and the lack of clarity of what your role is. We have to inhabit our self-doubt with thoughtfulness. Simply by asking, how can you engage this difficult moment? How can we not stand back and instead put ourselves closer to the situation?
I remember those first moments with my child. I didn’t know how to hold her head. I was truly scared I was going to do it wrong. But I stood there in that insecurity and held her and became a little more confident that I could figure out this whole dad thing. It obviously wasn’t that hard, but I had to get through a layer of insecurity. We have to do that as fathers over and over again.
There are so many moments when we have to choose to love and engage our child. The moms are almost forced to engage and love their child. The feeding fosters both a deep intimacy and strong sense of confidence. For us, we have to choose to repeatedly harness those moments rather than giving them over to our partners. So often, to take those moment requires us facing the unknown in ourselves. Can we do this? How do we not stand back when our child is saying they hate us and want Mom. Or when she is crying uncontrollably? It is so easy to just think, “Oh jeez, what a mess. I will just give it to the mother.” But every time we hand our child over to the mother we disempower ourselves and we over-empower her.
Every chance you have when there is a moment of challenge, see if you can stay with it. See if you can find your own mastery of that moment. You will have many moments for it to happen over and over again. Maybe you mess up the first diaper change, there will obviously be plenty more to come. Maybe you mess up the first time you talk to your kid about something really difficult; sex or drugs. There will be another chance, just keep stepping back in there. To be a parent is to fail! It is to be told we are horrible over and over again by our kids. In the face of those intense challenges, for us to none-the-less inhabit the moment with empowerment, creates a family where everyone can gets the love and support they need.
If we step into the family in this way, the mother is no longer being overburdened with responsibility. She gets to see us thriving as empowered men, which increases her attraction for us. We get to feel the joy of being good fathers, which feeds our hearts like nothing else in the world. Our kids see us and our partners loving each other, which gives them the power that they need to live their lives free of emotional burden. When they experience that kind of harmonious cooperation they can build healthy relationships in their own lives. The whole system thrives and literally generations of our descents are positively affected in the wake of us choosing to engage these simple moments over and over.
If we are empowered, the whole family stays balanced and everyone thrives.
Thank you for joining me for another episode of Full Frontal Fatherhood. I would love to hear your thoughts about this, so please join the conversation below, but lets keep it friendly because this is hard stuff and we are all doing our best.
I will see you next time for another episode of Full Frontal Fatherhood.