Most fathers would claim that the entire month of June should be devoted to Father’s Day. And why not? Being a father is a year-round and lifelong job when done right. Some writers now describe the complex role of fathers in terms of decades in their children’s lives. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.
The first decade is filled with a lot of work and a lot of play. These are the years when being a Daddy is especially fun. If there was ever a time to relive or create a perfect childhood, this is your opportunity. Before kids reach the double-digits, their homework is easy enough for us to understand, school projects are fun, they like to play sports and games, and we are able to enforce bedtime. Your job is to keep them safe, fed, and secure in the idea that you are there for them. These are the years when you can easily be their hero.
The second decade is filled with their friends and activities. As your children venture out in the world, each new step will pose new challenges. Your job is to encourage them and catch them doing things right instead of focusing on their deficiencies. As the Dad, you are a role model and they will depend on you and their mother to set boundaries and hold them accountable. Take time each day to check in with your child. Make it a habit to talk and listen to your kids on a daily basis; this will result in fewer surprises down the road.
The third decade requires letting go. Like baby birds getting ready to fly, your children will eventually set forth to establish their own lives. Their challenge will be to find a career that they love, a partner who loves them back, and to find their place in the world. This will require self-confidence and competence. False starts are not uncommon. As they seek to establish themselves, your role is more like a consultant than in the past. Too much criticism will alienate them; too little support may drive them away. Your challenge is to strike the right balance which requires even more listening and empathy as you cheer them along their path.
The fourth decade affords new friendship. As children achieve their thirtieth birthday, their course is generally set. Even if “30 is the new 20”, by now most have chosen their lifestyle, started a family of their own and they have hopefully become self-supporting. A good relationship with your offspring will not come about through any sense of entitlement but only through your acceptance of who they have become. Hopefully they have earned your respect and you have earned theirs. Your opportunity to influence them is now optional on their part and you may begin to look to them for the advice they once sought from you. Hopefully they will become as concerned about your welfare as you have been for theirs. If lucky, you will celebrate Father’s Day as a grandfather someday and see your children from yet another perspective.
Bill Cosby, who has been described as America’s favorite father figure, has written that “…in spite of all the scientific knowledge…the human animal cannot be the most intelligent one on earth because he is the only one who allows his offspring to come back home. Look at anything that gives birth; eventually it will run and hide. …even a mother elephant… and when you consider how hard it is for a mother elephant to hide, you can appreciate the depth of her motivation (1986)”.
Best wishes for Father’s Day… Keep up the good work!
©Copyright, 2012, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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