With Father’s Day upon us, there’s always a flurry of commentary about the ever changing role of fathers and what it means to be a Dad in this day and age. If you can ignore for a brief moment the consumer emphasis of this ‘hallmark’ day, it offers the opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the special bond that exists between a father and his children.
As part of this celebration, it’s time to start a dialog about the ever changing landscape of what it means to be a father.
The men that I work with in therapy describe a tremendous range of parenting and relationship challenges and experiences. With the increase of solo parenting, blended and extended, same-sex and non-married families, not to mention transformations in our commercial and cultural, political and immigration, technology and legal world, it’s honestly no surprise that the role that fathers play in the lives of his children has never been so diverse; or equally bewildering.
The widely oscillating story between nurturer and provider that occurs in contemporary society has the potential to create a tremendous amount of stress for fathers. While there is an increasing movement for fathers to provide greater levels of emotional support and connectivity for their children, some fathers battle to find the right balance between intimacy and fun and traditional roles of being the breadwinner or disciplinarian. This combination can cause confusion for children and tremendous discord between spouses.
Finding the right balance between traditional and contemporary fatherhood roles is a challenge for many fathers who are trying to create their own authentic parenting style. Some fathers describe that the foundation of their role has become slowly eroded or diluted. Others state the opposite, describing their roles as increasingly fulfilling and empowering. These different perspectives may be due to the way fathers are valued (or potentially devalued) in society and the accompanying cultural environment. It may also be as a result of the legacies left for them by their own fathers.
So, let’s not wait until the third week of June each year to have this crucial conversation.
Father’s are ready to openly explore unchartered territory about their relationships with their children right now. They are becoming parenting advocates, they are working closely with other fathers, they are educating themselves and they are even seeking professional help far more readily than any generation that came before them. Fathers recognize that fatherhood is a challenging job and they are willing to acknowledge and take accountability for any mistakes they may have may along the way. They are also willing to savor the love and connectivity with their children when things go well.
Let’s continue and support this conversation beyond this weekend.
So to all the dad’s, fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, foster dads, and any other dad-like figures that play a role in the life of a child, I take my hat off to you. Fatherhood, regardless of what shape, form or flavor you can imagine, can be for some, one of the most rewarding and fulfilling roles that men can ever experience. It’s bloody tough, and fatherhood should be celebrated each and every day.
If you are preparing for fatherhood, exploring what fatherhood means to you or would like to enhance your relationship with your children but find that you sometimes struggle, then let’s talk.
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