by Melisse Ogilvie
Last weekend when we celebrated fathers all over the world, I wondered what the conversations and atmosphere were around the various dinner tables in homes across this country.
I imagined there was a moment of pause, where contributions to the home and family were recognised. It was likely also a brief moment to forget about the trying times we are in. I also imagined that in some households, fathers were not celebrated or did not feel like celebrating for various reasons.
Parenting is a difficult, yet rewarding job. The rewards are seen when parenting is done well in spite of the circumstances. Children always need to have both parents physically and emotionally involved in their lives, but more so in a time like this where there is so much uncertainty, changes and turmoil that can impact their future. This makes parenting more challenging.
Fathers, your children are going to be looking to you to navigate this season and to help them to come out unscathed. It is not a time to be physically and emotionally removed from your family. Yes, your children may have the presence of a mother to nurture them, but do not doubt your ability to build confidence and self-esteem in your children. This is done by being more engaged, supportive, loving and providing a safe and secure home environment.
In a time like this, how do you provide safety and security for your family when you might not feel this for yourself? This might be a great challenge for you but I want to encourage you to do what is necessary for your sake and your children’s sake. It may mean that you do not ignore your own emotional needs, feelings of frustration, anxiety and inadequacies, for the sake of being perceived as “strong.” If you are feeling low and it is affecting your life, especially your responsibilities of being a parent, please seek help.
Be encouraged to continue or seek to perform your role of father, because your child’s future depends on your actions today.
If ever there is a time to intentionally develop a meaningful relationship with your children beyond simply meeting their physical needs, it is now.
How do you do this?
Spend time with your children. Create opportunities to get to know your child and for your child to get to know you. It will be about endeavouring to enjoy each other’s company.
Listen to your child. We all, including your children, need a safe space to discuss our ups and downs. When you develop a relationship with your child where feelings and concerns are unreservedly discussed, it would be easier to have conversations about more difficult situations. You can have that difficult conversation without having the answer.
Discipline with love. Often, parents discipline in anger and this has the potential to make your children more fearful of you. Children are to be taught that there are consequences for their actions. Reward or praise their good behaviour as you do not only want to give attention to negative behaviour.
Be your child’s role model: Your children are looking at the way you do life; your work ethic; your relationships; your emotional expressions. Teach your child right from wrong. They are also looking at the way you treat their mother.
Fathers, we see you and your efforts. Remember, your child’s present wellbeing and future outcome lie in your hands.
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