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Encouragement Article

Normalize Fatherhood

Why is it that when I go to the grocery store with my two sons I am stopped AT LEAST once, sometimes more, to be told "you are such a good dad", "it is so good to see a dad out with his kids", or "those boys are lucky to have you". Moms, if you are reading this, do you ever get stopped for someone to give you positive feedback? Not from what I have heard. Instead, moms often receive criticism rather than compliments, or critiquing glances rather than smiles and nods. Have father's been so far and few between that people are in awe of a parent acting out his duties? Well, to an extent, yes.

It can also be seen in other aspects of our life. I've heard many times when fathers are going to be watching their kids, they refer to as "babysitting" instead of simply being a parent. Even in the Cocomelon version of Wheels On The Bus, the mother on the bus says "shh, shh, shh" while the dad says "I love you". @momlife_comics recently posted "An Illustrated Guide To The Double Standards of Parenting" that can be seen as humorous, but also furthers the point being made above.

Any of these examples simply highlight that fathers can be great at being the "fun parent" or maybe stepping in only when the children need the next level of discipline. But what about the everyday?

My goal is to encourage fathers to be present to the point that a father spending time with his kids is no longer seen as an outlier but a standard condition. It's time to Normalize Fatherhood.

So where do we start?

To me it is two major steps.

 

First

Evaluate or revaluate your thoughts and stance on what it means to be a father. Whether you intentionally developed an image at a certain point in your life, it was unintentionally developed during your childhood, or otherwise, everyone has an idea of what a father is and should do. I would argue that to most people, their "normal" view of what a father is stems from their parents. For some, the example of their father can be encouraging, while others are terrified to have children because they don't want to be like their dad. In some cases, your view of fatherhood comes primarily from television or social media, of which has an extraordinary range of examples, both positive and negative. Whatever your case may be, reevaluate your thoughts and ideas for the pure reason of not doing something because that is what you understand to be normal. Don't simply go through the motions of what you understand a father to do, simply because that's how it's always been. Look at fatherhood without pre-conceived motives or ideas and truly think of and determine the kind of father YOU want to be for your child. (Side bar: This is a great way to evaluate and think about all aspects of your life!)

In the end, depending on your initial thoughts of what a father should be, you may end up doing the exact same thing you were prior. In this case, it's not a waste of time, but a developed understanding that you are doing what you feel is best for your child because you evaluated the other options. In other cases, you may change every aspect about how you engage and interact with you children. Maybe you want to break the cycle of failed fatherhood and be the father you wish you had.

 

Second

Put your thoughts into action.

In our world today, there is an endless amount of information. Way too often, we research and prepare for something, all the while telling ourself we are making progress when in reality we are standing still. We can follow dads on Instagram, we can listen to podcasts, or read books, but until we take an actual step towards being the father we want to be, we simply remain stagnant. James Clear addresses this in his book Atomic Habits, "We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action...I refer to this as the difference between being in motion and taking action...We do it because motion allows us to feel like we're making progress without running the risk of failure." (p.142).


Ryan Michler, of the Order of Man movement and author of the book Sovereignty, recently tweeted something similar: "As a professional podcaster for the last 7 years, I can confidently say you should stop listening to so many podcasts and replace that listening time with practical application of everything you’ve learned by listening." (link).

Research and fear of failure is common in parenthood. We want to make the best decisions for our children so bad that we over analyze and then second guess our choices. Truth is, no one has a perfected approach. Even if they claimed to, every child is different and no one method can be applied across the board. Even within the same family, from one child to the next, the same methods most likely won't return the same results. It’s an individualistic learning game.

As an engineer, I have always been taught to "fail fast". Or, in the words of Adam Savage of MythBusters, what is really meant is for us to "iterate fast". The whole idea is that we quickly develop the structure of an idea and put it into action or test it. From this, we evaluate the outcome, make slight changes, test again and so on. Sometimes you scrap the idea all together and go back to the drawing board. Ultimately, it is a continual effort to iterate our efforts. However, the main difference between engineering and parenting is that, as an engineer, generally our target product or end goal remains the same and we iterate until we have a viable solution. In parenting, your child is continually growing and changing. This means the iteration of your discipline tactics, intentional activities, engaging talking points, moments of personal connection, are a continually mutating effort.

 

All that to say, no parent is perfect. No approach is "the best". The best you can do is act with pure intent to be the father you want for your children.

Don't stay stagnant. Don't only have the "want to" of change and action. Act. Be present and intentional every day. Normalize Fatherhood.


Be Present. Be Intentional.

- Chad


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1 Comment


Guest
Sep 30, 2022

Very good! I agree as watching my daughters grow they develop different temperaments some better and some not and sometimes it is just a stage but we need to be aware. I want them to know I was serious about doing the best I could

phil

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