Once I saw Oprah’s post on Instagram. Inspired by Andra Day and Common’s song “Stand up for something”, she posted “I stand up for kindness”. I thought:
“Why don’t we, men, dads, uncles, brothers, etc. stand up for an effective fatherhood?”
Moreover, you don’t have to be a father to exercise fathering. Later, I’ll explain why. Also, I will provide some actionable tips on how to be an effective father.
Every single day we see people standing up for something that matters to them. It’s the greatest asset of democracy, to my mind. Thus, standing for an effective fatherhood is worth attention as well.
Mass media reminds us that sometimes we fail our wives, daughters, sisters or people we are responsible for. I don’t want to blame the mankind but sometimes we need to do things better.
Why being a father does not always mean being a biological one?
To answer this question, I’d like to refer to Jennifer Anniston’s quote when she was asked why she didn’t have kids: “You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t mothering—dogs, friends, friends’ children”. In other words, mothering as well as fathering is more determined by the attitude and your ability to take responsibility for somebody else’s life rather than a biological participation in a human procreation. Therefore, you can be a father to your students, your female coworkers, even to your elderly parents by taking care, inspiring, uplifting, motivating, giving direction, being there, supporting.
I am a dad of 3 lovely kids, twins and a teenager. We adopted our teen daughter when she was 5. My wife and I thought we were ready to share our love with another human being. At that time, I decided I would be the best dad ever. Since then I missed out lots of school events of hers but she still thinks I am the best dad ever. It looks like an effective fatherhood is much more than that. The only way to be better is to try better. So, here’s what I do to be a good father.
1. We play “good-bad things” at the dinner table.
Every day I ask my kids what was bad and good this day in their life. I ask what they are thankful for and what they’d like to improve. I delve into details. They feel that every effort they make, every strive matter to me.
2. I recommend reading books and then we discuss it together. Margaret Thatcher’s father did the same. They used to take books at the local library and discuss them afterward. This is how her dad cultivated an independent and critical thinking.
3. I respect their right for privacy but I set rules.
I am quite aware of what’s going on online: online predators, cyberbullying, sexting. So, we agreed on my using parental control app to check on them from time to time. (There are lots of them on the market: Kidgy, ESET, Norton, etc.)
4. I suggest inviting their friends to our house.
This is so powerful. My teen daughter feels I accept and respect her way of choosing the social environment. To me, that’s the way to be her “body” to be able to give advice on relationships.
5. We plan their future education, personal development, growth. We discuss books to buy, courses to attend, tuition, etc. We encourage our kids to do more than the current educational system suggests.
6. We turn to a family therapist when we feel it’s time to tackle a sore subject.
For example, we asked a practitioner how to talk about the child sexting and got some useful tips.
7. I have some helpful resources to address.
I keep in mind Crisis Call Center and LifeTime Crisis Chat. I hope they will never come in handy but it’s better to be equipped.
8. We agreed on discussing everything with no stigma or judgments.
Thus, they feel a complete acceptance and unconditional love. Even if I find something inadmissible, the best way to convey it is from the position of a friend, not a judge.
The best way to stand up for an effective fatherhood is to live up to its values. Dr. Steve Maraboli once said “Today’s man should do more than just talk; he should act. He should do more than just promise; he should deliver.” However, men also should stick together to spread and fuel the idea of an effective fatherhood.
Guest Post by Jerome Simas. Jerome is an e-safety expert and a freelance writer. He is also the father of 3, twins and teen daughter. He has a excellent blog at https://www.parentmap.com