Well, this may come as a shock … brace yourself! I am not a qualified Family Relationship Psychiatrist, nor am I a Professor of Paternal Sibling Relationships. I am something much more impressive … I am a father.
I certainly don’t have all the answers for good parenting but I do have life experiences; years of mistakes, successes, love and trauma; dynamic relationships, a husband a father, a mentor and sometimes a complete let-down.
Being married for forty years, with two, now adult, children (both in loving partnerships and surprise), and four wonderful grandchildren…
I would say a good father is one who …
- Will listen to his children
Listen to your children, play with them and learn with and from them. They will need your love and at times your wisdom; wisdom that may have to be administered by way of an occasional firm rebuke.
- Interact with his children
Fatherhood is not something achieved in isolation, families interact, feed off one another and adapt. A family evolves through dynamic and ever changing relationships; it’s about give and take. Life is not monochrome, it’s a wonderful rainbow of emotions.
- Engage with his children
A father is but one part of the whole. As such he must be a guiding light, but flexible and certainly not rigid in outlook.
Children love being naughty, having fun, making a mess; it’s a dad’s job to find and encourage that balance of appropriate behaviour. No easy task, parenting ‘guidelines’ are not set in stone … thank goodness.
- Is willing to accept that all children are not the same
One thing I learnt, very early on in my role as a dad, was that, you cannot simply expect to impose your will upon children. Children, I am convinced, are born with already developed personality traits.
Take for example my two children; there’s only eighteen months between them; but from a very early age their personalities were completely different. Give then both a toy car and the eldest, Mark would rev it up and make all the appropriate racing noises; Anne-Marie would probably take the wheels off! She breezed through school, college and university, and is now a qualified, highly paid, engineer.
On the flip side, my son Mark … well, he was more of, shall we say, a ‘challenge’. A story for another day.
Parenthood reflects the realities of life.
As a father you will experience the whole ambit of human emotions, from sheer joy through to abject despair. Your family, wife and children, are all part of this ultimately rewarding maelstrom of feelings.
Regrettably, dads are often side-lined in the parenting debate.
However your role within the family is, nevertheless, crucial in the healthy development of your children.
That’s not in any way intended to undermine the importance of a mother, to be honest, there’s no way I could have coped without Jackie; especially when it came to the challenges presented by ‘Mischievous Mark!’