Becoming a parent is a universal feeling of bliss, fear, joy, and overwhelming anxiety all wrapped up into one swaddled bundle of baby. Now, I can’t speak on being a Mom (huge round of applause and praise for all the Mothers in the world) but I can speak on becoming a Father.
Being a father means being the kind of male leader you would want to follow and emulate. I don’t know about you, but those are some big shoes to fill for me. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I have to remind and humble myself to allow imperfections to exist. But what I’ve learned is there are some key qualities I admire that I want to teach my son (and now daughter) to strive/look for.
A man’s greatest strength is found in his composure. The ability to “stay cool” without being John Travolta, can reap an endless list of benefits. But, as a father, kids can bring Mortal Kombat to life and seriously test your might. From inconsolable crying to sickness that leaves you powerless as a parent, maintaining your composure shows your children that you’re in control, you’re their fearless leader, all powerful protector, and that builds massive amounts of trust to strengthen that father-child-bond.
Men can be scary, especially to a small child. Think about for a second and picture this: you’re a small child no taller than a Town Fair truck tire, a gallon milk feels like a garbage barrel filled with heavy snow (you know that wet, heavy snow that’s great for snowballs, terrible for shoveling), and here comes this 6+ foot tall Neanderthal of a man approaching you with hands they look like “The Claw” from Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 3.
Being gentle can rid that intimidating feeling kids might get when you enter a room. Move slow and avoid quick, jerking motions, especially when handling a child. Use your strength to keep them safe, but handle them as if they were a giant Pringle chip. Let them push your hands away, or move your head in the direction they want. They need to learn and trust that you’re not a threat, you’re just a big teddy bear.
Children are new to the world. They’re sponges that are soaking up everything around them and as they learn, they try new things. Be it words, sentences, moving items like toys or kitchenware, feeding themselves, or simply walking without holding your hand. They need to know that Dad (and Mom) have their back. When you tell your children “no”, “you’re too young”, “you can’t do that yet”, or “I’ll do that for you”, you are destroying their autonomy and independence.
Now, we all know kids don’t know better sometimes, so we have to keep them safe. But what I want to stress is letting your little one walk on their own (in a safe place), play with the ladle and pots (just away from the stove), and let them mush food all over their face and table. They’ll grow into delightful individuals that will win you heart over time and time again because of your love and support.
Have fun with this whole parenthood thing and Dads, remember you’re just as important as Mom, but it takes the two of you as a team to give a child the full-family-effect.
Stay strong, stay together.
© 2017 Clinton N. Downs