Well, it's that time of year again - Father's day. One of the days some people scorn because it's 'too commercial' and all fathers (and I) think is a great idea!Our lives are moving too fast and we forget to honour people we care about on a day to day basis becuase we are too busy struggling to survive. So I believe we need a formal reminder to stop and show our Dad's how much we do care about them and how much we appreciate them and everything they have done for us (even if we did kick and scream!).
Dads, step dads and good male friends are really important in a childs path to adulthood. Somethiimes I wonder if men realise just how important they are inthis process. Studies have shown that toddlers learn tremendous life lessons from the play and interaction they have with their fathers/ male caregivers.
And now for hte best present for Father's day - not socks, not undies or a tie. A book. By an extraordinary man called Steve Biddulf. He is a psychologist and he and his wife are changing the way we think about parenting, being male and living in our lifetime. The book is exceptional and called Manhood. It's a sensitive and informative guide for men to cope witht he conflicting and changing demands being made on them in today's society.
I have always joked about coming back as a man next time - because I figured it was easier! Not any more. I think
"Your father is the person who first and most powerfully 'taught' you what manhood means. He did this by just being your father. Like it or not, he is in your head and in your sinews and nerves forever."
Steve Biddulf in Manhood.
most, becausekeep up with the speed of lifecan benefit from Or to perhaps reflect on what we did receive (or not receive) from our fathers and process our experiences and feelings if our time with them was not as positive as it could be.' Perhaps they feel superfluous because the mother plays such big part? And society focuses on mothering and nurturing and paints mothers as the main care givers.
I know that father's (or father figures) are crucial to the growing up process. , children and grown upscare givers Girls and boys receive different gifts from their fathers - or step fathers or father figures. Amongst other things , boys learn what it is to be a man and girls develop much of their self confidence from their father's interaction and love.
Steve Biddulf suggests that the 'art of fathering has all but disappeared'. Which brings me to thet socks, not undies or a tie. But athat,happily in a culture that is making relating difficult
t And to learn how to be fathers again. It should be required reading for all men and women - women so they can begin to understand how men really think and feel and men for the same reason! And also to give men strategies to deal with life today.to be a man today is potentially confusing, and brings a life full of responsibility, insecurity and uncertainty. So lets celebrate the wonderful men in our lives - and just process the not so wonderful!
This will be the first year without my stepfather for 17 years. He died a few months ago. We were much closer than I realised - as is often the case. He was one of the 'old school' men who loved you but didn't always show it overtly. When someone is 'there' we sort of appreciate them - but not nearly as much as when they are not 'there'. That's when we really understand what this man did for us or how much he supported us or loved us.
For those of you who still have fathers, step fathers or father figures alive - stop and think. About the gifts they give you - no , not actual pressies! - but the emotional and spiritual gifts they share and let them know how much you value those gifts. Even if the gift was how to grow up on your own and develop independence - maybe a hard lesson, but was it valuable?
Write your dad (step dad etc) a letter telling him all the things you love about him; all the special times you remember with him; what you are grateful to him for and tell him how much you love him. He might never show it but I bet he'll sleep with that letter beside his bed or heart or under his pillow for ever!
Even if your dad's not alive, write the letter ! Or think about what you would have said if you were to write a letter. Have a family get together to celebrate what this man did when he was with you.
There is a large bank of men out there who are part time fathers - who miss their children dreadfully. Guys, TELL your children how much you love and care for them. Constantly. Even if they seem not to hear it. Write them letters about how you feel so they have something to keep and look at when you are not there. And when they are older andmay understand better. Share yourself with them even if you don't see them very often.
If you are a father, do yourself a favour and buy Steve Biddulf's book if no one gave it to you! No man wakes up in the morning and thinks 'how can I be an appalling parent today?'! But our own parents who were our models did the best job they could given their knowledge , experience and skills. But they did it in a time where life was very different from now and so our own model of parenting may be outdated for the way we live today. Or perhaps we didn't have a father at all - or a dominant male presence as we grew up - in which case we may have a blank template which we could shape with the Biddulf's and other's help!
We need guidance and it's essential to ask and read to learn more. Maybe we should have ante natal classes that are followed by parenting classes as part of the deal! The Biddulf's also have 2 books called "The Secrets of Happy Children' and "More Secrets of Happy Children' which are wonderful guides to better parenting.
In Manhood there is a classic line in his chapter summary of 'Being a real Father' - 'Do stuff with your son'. I'm adding, Or daughter , Dads.
And kids - do stuff with your fathers! Even if it's only on this one day - if you have a great time, maybe you'll all 'do stuff' together more often.