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Fathers, Emotions and Encouragement


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How many fathers struggle through their days wanting to be the father they never had? This situation must be fairly common. It is one thing to realize your father did not teach you how to be a good dad to your children. It is another challenge completely to step in, learn and implement a task you were never prepared for.

 Websites like Daddy123 work hard to assist fathers who own a genuine desire to build a positive, loving legacy with their children. The articles and forums are designed to give dads information and food for thought on how they can implement change in the pattern of child rearing within their family line.

Oops, there's that hateful word - change. Yes, men must learn to change a pattern of fathering even though they just became a new father. If a man had a great, loving, interactive father, change would not need to be a concern. For many of us, change is a must. We find ourselves falling into the patterns we learned while growing up. Patterns of working late all the time or hanging out with the guys, or any number of typical male avoidance of interacting with their children.

I'm not suggesting those actions are inherently evil, just that a father must still invest time and love in his children. All this said, I want to address the frustration a dad feels when he realizes he is not meeting his desire to be a great father to his children. We recognize, at times, when we've fallen back into the old routines of our fathers. This recognition can cause a myriad of feelings of defeat, hopelessness and despair.

Oh yeah, guys aren't supposed to feel that way, right? I suppose I'm the only one then. My father worked long hours, crazy shifts and whenever he was home you did not disturb his rest/relaxation/slumber, etc. Children were for mom to handle, keep in line, interact with, feed, cloth, get ready for school/church/ball games, etc. While I am not nearly as militant (a caveat to my attempt to not be like my father), I still allow work to pull me away from interaction and my wife bears much of the load as far as taking care of our children and when I look at this fact, sometimes I feel my shoulders sink, my heart get heavy and I feel like my basketball team just got thumped 77-22 despite my all-out effort to win.

A tendency to begin the 'blame game' sets in with me. "Why can't I seem to do this? How hard is it to make the effort to connect daily with my children?" There are many more self-convicting questions a father will ask himself sometimes. I'm not going to advocate fathers NOT ask these questions. Instead I simply want to let those of you who do take their role seriously and sometimes feel like you are not measuring up, that there are others out there doing the same thing.

I have six children. One of my more helpful observations of life has been that if I feel something, so do a good number of other people in my position. I also find that self reflection and questioning oneself tends to lead more toward the goal rather than away. I do not recommend remaining in a defeated state of mind by any means. When you get there, just remember you are not alone. There are most likely countless other guys living their fatherly lives feeling these same feelings.

I recommend broaching the subject with a father-friend. The conversation could be massively uplifting to both of you. I have also discovered that writing can be a huge release of angst, frustration, the feeling of being overwhelmed and many other emotional situations. You don't have to write for public consumption. You don't have to write well. The simple act of getting your thoughts and feelings out in words on a screen can turn an entire day around.

One last tidbit. As I noted above, I follow tendencies to be 'similar' to my father. My children have only known ME as their father. They have no clue what it was like living in my father's house growing up. Their only basis for observation of who and what a father should be is me. For me to attempt to explain to them how it was for me growing up means nothing to them. They only know what life is like for them in their lives.

This is the legacy I spoke of at the beginning of this article. For those fathers like me who wish to change the legacy we grew up with into something far more positive, don't point fingers. Step out and reach out to friends who are fathers. Go ahead and recognize when you are not meeting your expectations of yourself. Heck, even allow yourself that moment of despair. But when you get there, remember there are others right there with you and we all need a helping hand, an encouragement to move forward and the resilience to rally to our goal of a positive, loving role model for our children.

Reach out to other dads. I'm sure you'll find many with the same issues who would be willing to commiserate and possibly encourage. That is my belief anyway, and this is my effort to commiserate and encourage.

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