Who said being a father was easy? Hell fire, your life is your kid’s growth and protection. It’s no easy task, shifting perspective from one of the young free people to a parent handling a bundle of smelly joy, changes who we are rapidly. An ever evolving task.
We as dads do struggle. Well to be honest, living with ever increasing limitations put in our way can be soul destroying. Sadly for some, quite literally. Not to mention the arsenal of opinions and social standards we’re meant to live by. Those nasty buggers that throw up our social barriers and sometimes isolate us from those who will listen and help.
But more often than sometimes we have to try and step up, be voices for our children when they need that little extra help. A vast spectrum of their issues knock on our doors daily, from bullying to the pressure of what hairstyle would look cool to avoid rejection from materialistic and vain peers.
For some of us, it’s a new challenge to side line our own internal battles and try to hide them from our kids, so we are better placed to help them.
As with the years before, having young teenage kids is an unravelling fog of war. A blind path that opens you up to embarrassing talks about the importance of using protection, so that the birds and the bees don’t have dysfunctional inter species offspring. Helping with the washing up would be pretty cool without prompt.
Then there’s explaining that watching porn really isn’t a good idea, while itching to run and jack up the parental controls for peace of mind. Frankly there is tons of wrong and unrealistic stuff out there and joking aside, addressing these issues and other subjects openly as best as I can has put me and the kids on a path that I hope has helped protect their emotional wellbeing.
Contemporary kids need that extra interpretation of informed life experience, I may have got there through trial and error and in truth I’m still learning as I go, but they need their ear time and grounding from Dad. Talking, as we are all coming to know is vital. If, as a dad I remain closed, I could almost certainly fail as a parent, damage my self-worth and fundamentally fail my kids as their safe place.
If the kids have an issue that’s worrying them, no matter how big or small, it’s often a big anxiety causing issue to them. It’s easy to forget and take it for granted that as an adult, I came across these issues and challenges many times but have forgotten the impact those problems had on me when I first experienced them. It’s been important that I respect, listen and try to be objective to every issue the kids land on me, no matter how minor.
What surprises me is that giving your kids listening time and trust, opens the flood gates for mutual respect and a safe place for them to run to. I’ve found that my kids actually came back to me and ask my advice and my help, because they felt I listened to them and heard them. And at times took action. Then in a breath, they change the subject to sticking tape over your eye lids to get a tight tidy line for eyeliner and shading… useful information if you need it.
I found it hard at times to keep a lid on that little niggle of anger while letting them chat openly about their worries. Holding back my disapproval gave them the confidence to talk without feeling that they would get in trouble. They were less restrained in the information that they gave, they flowed more. One of the important things was to try and be natural, not force conversation or attempt rigid questioning.
Oh they will test me. Argue and call me a dick, sometimes… maybe a few times, but I like to think they love me unconditionally and will always come to me for help if I give them time, love and a big listening ear. Life as we know isn’t an easy task, but I try my damned best to keep my kids smiling and safe. And to the judgements of others; I may not have money or a career but I’d like to think I’m a fucking good Dad.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.