The fact that you’re reading this blog tells me that you already understand why fathers are so important to children, families, and communities.
With that in mind, I would like to challenge you to take your work with fathers to the next level in two areas:
- Elevate yourself
- Elevate your community
To grow in these areas requires a teachable spirit, moving out of your comfort zone (which very few people enjoy), and challenging your paradigm, especially if you’re already working with dads. Remember, this is about taking your work with fathers to the next level.
So, in this first part of a two-part post, I want to focus on how you can elevate fatherhood in your personal life, whether you are a dad or a mom. After all, if your goal is to engage fathers and help them be the best dads they can be, you need to model that in your own life.
If you’re a dad, the first thing you need to do is recognize that you’re not replaceable. We conducted a National Survey of Dads' Attitudes on Fathering that showed 57% of dads believe that another man can replace them. If you think you’re replaceable, you’ve just sapped all of your motivation to be a better dad! Don’t believe it. You bring a unique and irreplaceable role to the parenting process.
Second, build your fathering skills. Self-awareness is a great place to start. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. You won’t be able to change an unhealthy behavior if you don’t recognize what you’re doing to cause the problem. You can become more self-aware by participating or facilitating a fatherhood program like 24/7 Dad®, which includes a focus on self-awareness. You might also consider seeing a counselor, therapist, faith leader, or someone else you trust to be an accountability partner.
As you become more self-aware, you can target more specific areas to improve, such as taking care of yourself, parenting, and relationship skills. Ask yourself:
- How well am I doing with exercise and eating right?
- Am I learning new and interesting facts about the world?
- Am I choosing friends who reinforce healthy behaviors?
- Am I using my unique strengths as a dad to engage and nurture my children?
- How am I doing with my communication and commitment to keep relationships healthy, especially with the mother of my children?
Finally, take advantage of fatherhood resources. There are some really good, free tools available in our free resource section on our website at fatherhood.org. One example is our 5 Questions Every 24/7 Dad Asks that can help you connect with your child in a meaningful way.
If you’re a mom, you aren’t off the hook. Do you realize that your perception of your children’s father and his ability to be a good dad is actually more important on how well he fathers as his own perception? So, I challenge you to:
- Recognize the impact your own father has had on your relationships with other men and the father of your children.
- Reflect on what your mom modeled in her relationship with your father or other men. Ask yourself how that has influenced the interaction you have with the father of your children.
- Consider attending or facilitating an Understanding Dad™ program as a way to grow in those areas.
- Use the research on father involvement's effects on child well-being as motivation to co-parent with dad in the best interest of your children. And read up on techniques for healthy communication in relationships.
There’s one final area I encourage you to look at. You might have heard the term maternal gatekeeping where mom acts as the gatekeeper between dad and their children. In some cases, gatekeeping is important, such as when there is documented child abuse or domestic violence on dad’s part. But in most cases, this behavior is unnecessary and actually harms children.
Often times, moms have told me they didn’t even realize they were doing things that made it challenging for the dad to be more involved in the children’s lives. So assessing whether or not there is unnecessary gatekeeping can help you be the gateway rather than the gatekeeper.
Whether you’re a mom or dad, my hope is that your family will experience the benefits of elevating fatherhood in your personal life.
In part two of this post, I will focus on elevating your community.
>> What are some ways you’ve elevated yourself around responsible fatherhood?
>> What are some ways you can continue to grow in this area?
Want to learn more? Get 24/7 Dad® curricula training from the comfort of your office!
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM EST