How do you see yourself as a father? How many points out of ten, would you give yourself and how many points you would be awarded, by your child/children or their mother? What kind of father are you now?
Before both of my children were born, I was talking to them while being next to my ex-wife’s tummy. I wanted them to recognise my voice and be familiar with me as a father. Later, I was present at the labour and I asked to cut the umbilical cord – this is kind of tradition back home and I wanted to do so. On top of this, before labour, I attended each appointment, scan and I really seen myself as a hands-on father to be.
As a professional working with fathers, children and whole families I get a chance to see different approaches, dynamics in households and also different models of upbringing children. As we know from research and recent discoveries, our connection with children starts even before the birth of a child. We are connected to our children long before that. As a father, and as a professional I am doing my best to ensure, that my connection with my own children is vital and deep. If you would like to find out more about the science behind it please check this website by amazing Suzanne Zeedyk.
I wanted to be involved hands on father and be there for my children, but I realised that sometimes our own experiences as children and parenting which we received might be a model which is not necessary good to follow or to duplicate. For example, looking onto my own experience as a child I realised when becoming a father, that I didn’t know what kind of father I will be, but I knew what kind of father I don’t want to be.
I didn’t want to hear- “Now, you can hold your son, now maybe you will try to change his nappy, are you ok to stay with both children for few hours? ” This was a picture I have seen so many times in my life. Incompetent father – quite often made like this by the closest people to him. Not giving him enough credit and trust.
My upbringing was close to cold parenting style. I also, very often, experienced domestic violence, physical punishment and on top of that, because of the fact, that I was raised in very deep communism I was subjected to neglect and hunger. This was our reality back in the days and I cannot compare it to now-days. But I had to unlearn many things which I was told, and shown by my father.
Smacking was natural, getting a beating from father using his belt also, as an electric lead. I needed to unlearn that smacking is ok, I thought that’s something normal and every parent does it. I haven’t seen anything bad about it, it was a measure and another parenting action. Oh boy.How wrong I was!
I remember when I smacked my son for the first time, I felt so bad, so unworthy of being called a parent, but I just simply lost it. One smack at the bum. Damn, it was bad. I felt like garbage, worst parent ever. It crushed me each time I did it. Soon, I realised that I have to learn to be a better father, to change my reactions, look for strategies to help me get rid of this reaction of helplessness, which smacking is at the end. Not knowing how to deal with emotion of my child and mine own.
Shouting, smacking, telling your child that you will give them away to an old lady or anyone whom they are afraid off is just wrong. But I know that these examples and those patterns exist from our experience. As a father I wanted to be the best possible parent for my kids, I realised that I know nothing about being a parent and without making an effort, I will just repeat this cycle of mediocre parenting.
I can honestly say, that if it comes to getting some knowledge I can recommend some courses which are always available in cities and towns across the UK.
The first one I would recommend is: The Incredible Years, depending of your location, some NHS staff or third sector organisations running it a few times a year.
The same with other training which I would highly recommend – Raising Children with Confidence.
This is a six-session course which aims to give all parents and carers the latest findings from evidence and research to explain what influences the development of emotional wellbeing and why, what you do makes such a difference. This course is suitable for parents and carers of children aged 0-11yrs. Raising Children with Confidence is part of the Growing Confidence project.
Over six two-hour sessions we will cover the following topics:
1. Promoting Wellbeing: Supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing
2. The Developing Brain: How experience shapes the brain
3. Why Love Matters: Creating positive relationships and attachments
4. Staying Connected: Listening to understand and developing empathy
5. Building Resilience: Coping with life’s ups and downs
6. Looking After Ourselves: The importance of parental wellbeing
I think that RCWC is amazing, I had the opportunity to be trained to deliver it and we will be delivering it for the first time in Edinburgh from 22 of January.
No one is perfect and I can say that I had a quite poor role model as a child, we moved on, we have science behind us now. It’s much easier now to reach out and get some knowledge about parenting. I believe that reaching out is a sign of being aware and wanting to become a better father. I always admire dads I am working with. They are proving that they have huge “cohones”, asking for support, changing their old habits and learning how to become better parents, how to meaningfully connect with their children, with no shame, giving them-selfs time and space for improvement.
We all know that changing old habits isn’t easy, but if you aware and mindful parent you will try for sake of your children as they will benefit from this positive change, with less trauma, less stress, you name it.
Let’s try to support each other and talk about fatherhood. Please share your thoughts about the subject.