Being a Father

by mikea44646 on August 13, 2009

I am a parent – the father of six. Through participation in 12 step support groups (like Families Anonymous) myself and others have the opportunity to share our respective experiences, strengths and hopes which helps us to grow personally as well as to become better at parenting.

I try to keep in focus, the characteristics or the qualities of what I think a “Father” should posses or should model. I look at four characteristics:

1) Power & Strength
2) Loving & Compassionate
3) Approachable – with ease
4) Understanding

As per my previous post about leadership, success and humility, in my reflection on these, I look  for where I am successful and where I can improve.

Power and Strength: I think I get a part of this well. There are times in my “Father” role that I need to step up and be a beacon for “calm and confidence” such as in a time of uncertainty or crisis. For example: When our new kitten (Merlin) disappeared in the woods and up a tree for several hours, I understood that my children needed me to engage with the issue, devise a plan of  action, but most of all, I needed to communicate that “we will do our best and that, regardless of the outcome of the search & rescue, that all is and will be Okay.

What I have not been good at – and I am learning through my work with other parents – is that part of Power and Strength is also setting appropriate boundaries and expectations. I am coming to a deeper undertanding that my children a guild or better yet, guild rails in their journey toward adulthood.

Traditionally, I have related to my children with an emphasis on the qualities of Love, Approachability, and Understanding. The mentor and friend role was comfortable. When my children would ask for something that I was not comfortable with, I would discuses it with them, reason with them, sometimes almost plead with them, but too seldom would I come to give a clear bottom line.  It is not necessary for a “bottom line” to be mean or capricious.  It does need to be clear and definite. When I fail to be clear and definite in my decision, what is often happening for me is that, out of my own selfish fear of rejection, I don’t want to “offend” them. what happens in a case like this is I end up abdicating my position as “Father” and am not happy.  Also, neither are my children, not really. I know that all four of these qualities can and should coexist in harmony. 

As an aside, there are tons of Parent Resources out there.  I share as I come across titles and sites that I finde helpful. I am currently reading an excellent book (so far) entitled “Boys Adrift” dealing with the growing problem of unmotivated boys and in particular under achievement academically in American schools & culture.  I’m only a third of the way through but so far the description of the problem lines up with not only some of  my own 13 year old son’ conflicts in school but also many of the back stories of the boys and struggling teens dealing with ADD/ADHD  who I work with at The Family Foundation School

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