When faced with choices in our lives, we sometimes act out of fear - of failure, of poverty, or inadequacy - or they may be based on our expectations of how things are supposed to happen. As parents, we may have clear ideas of what our family life should look like. But how often has your life ended up exactly as you imagined it would? Probably not very often!
When you find out you’re going to be a father, you may ask yourself some of these questions, from the article, Fears and the Fathering Paradigm:
“Will I be a good father?
Will my children love me?
Can I escape my own upbringing, and do better?
Can I parent with my heart, more than with my head?
Will my partner still love me if I am not a good father?
Will she even tell me if I’m doing poorly?
Will I ever learn enough, know enough, and contribute enough to our parenting relationship?
How will I respond if the kids get sick?
How can I keep them safe, provide for them, provide for my partner, and stay happy at the same time?”
Becoming a parent can be overwhelming! Wondering these things is perfectly normal, and you may start relying on the things you think parenting should look like, to guide you through the unknown.
It’s okay to enter marriage or parenting with a vision of what you want your relationships to look like. Those thoughts give you a framework to work with, a general plan to follow. But more importantly, you should face down your fears of change or of the unknown and embrace the adventures and uncertainties your life and your loved ones throw at you. You’ll not only enhance your own experiences, but you’ll be an excellent role model for your kids. Teach them to approach life with joy! Sing with them, dress up in silly costumes, build a blanket forts together - even if it means spending more time tidying up later.
You can let go of those preconceived ideas of what being a good father looks like, and accept the ups and downs of what your real life looks like.
There are plenty of parenting books out there, but no single book tells you what fatherhood should be like for you. Move past your fears, ask for help, and let go of those “should haves” to enjoy the present.
Source: Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #50.