4 LESSONS FROM FATHERHOOD
Being a father has brought me back to myself in ways nothing else in my life has. It's been the most challenging, yet rewarding experience of my life. As a co-parent to a teenage daughter, I’ve learned the true meaning of love, patience, humility, and communication. As I reflect on this journey, I wanted to share some lessons I’ve learned along the way for anyone who’s raising kids.
Most of us have a hard time trusting our kids, especially when our commitments at work prevent us from keeping a watchful eye on them; when they are out with friends or walking home from school. But what if I told you that instead of focusing on how to trust them, you should learn how to trust yourself first? Giving them the appropriate amount of freedom to explore life on their own will strengthen their self-esteem and create a deeper level in your relationship. Trust your parenting.
It’s Ok to NOT Like Your Kid...Sometimes
Kids can be assholes sometimes (yeah, I said it!) and they will hurt your feelings, especially when you aren't their favorite person. It’s important to remember that while you are the adult in the relationship, and you might dislike the way the treat you at times, you should always find ways to still love and BE loving. Lets not forget they are human beings with their own set of emotions, behaviors and thought patterns, and just like any other humanoid, they will get on your nerves. Love them harder in those times.
Don’t Underestimate What They Can Understand
In our efforts to shield our kids from harm we often keep them in the dark about things we go through as parents -- bad days at work, that guy on the train that smelled like onions -- we tend to underestimate our children’s ability to understand and empathize with our feelings. You’d be surprised at what kids understand if you just gave them a chance to listen. I’ve received some of the most profound yet simple advice from my daughter and it's helped me remember that as adults we are really good at making mountains out of molehills.
One of the biggest challenges we face as parents is encouraging our children to open up to us. Much like trust, we have to model vulnerability in our relationships; show them what it looks and feels like. We have to let them into all parts of our lives, not just the happy moments. I tell my daughter everything -- when I’m scared, insecure, hurt, and its helped us develop a deeper connection.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to not separate my humanness from my role as a father. Being fully present as a human being first, then a father, then a friend, has helped me develop a strong bond with my daughter that has stood the test of time and held us together during some really difficult shit. A child never asks to come into the world, so if you’ve been blessed to be a parent, cherish the experience and open yourself up to learning as much from your child as you are ready to teach them.