The Honor of Fatherhood Post 2
I teach the four Ls of parenting and fathering. The first L is Love. It is important that our children feel worthy of our love and feel that we truly love them. The second L is Like. Liking our children allows us to enjoy them as people. The third L is for Limits. Our job is to teach our children what they need to know to survive in this world. To that end, we must set limits for them. Consistent limits and consequences, not punishment, is a proven learning environment. The fourth and most powerful L is for Likeness. Our children will be a lot like us. Identification and imitation is how children learn who they are.
Fathers are the most important role model for children regarding men and masculinity. Being a father is one of the toughest roles in the world, and it does not come with an instruction sheet. Not that we as men would read any instructions if we had them, but it sure would be nice to at least know they’re there.
Ask yourself, if your sons grew up to be a lot like you are today, would that be OK? Most of us agree there is room for improvement. If our daughters chose men like us, would that be OK? Again, some room for improvement. If our children had relationships like we were modeling for them, would that be OK? If our children faced work, school, accountability, responsibility, honesty, honor and openness the way we do, would that be OK too? Most of us admit there is clear room for improvement. We also have to admit that in some areas we are doing a good job. I agree. Any father who is willing to take an honest look at his role is probably already doing a good job. Those who will not look already know they are missing the most important joy in life.
There is a lot of literature for and about mothers. Older theories wrongly blamed mothers for just about everything. Mothers were always seen as so important that if anything went wrong in parenting, then it must be their fault. The literature usually gave them the blame and seldom gave them the credit they were due. So where were the fathers in these theories? Were they not also to blame? Until recently, fathers were not seen as important enough in parenting and children rearing to even receive mention. Society had the fathers out in the world supporting the family while the mothers were home raising the children and having a direct influence on them. We see that the role of fathers is very important in the lives of their children. There is a growing body of literature for fathers now. There is no foolproof instruction guide giving us guaranteed systematic simple language advice, but it is a start.
A father’s role is always changing. As our children grow, so do we. Fathering changes with the child’s development. Fathers begin interacting with their children during pregnancy. Pregnancy, delivery and infancy are periods that fathers know very little about and are left out of. It is easy to see the importance of mothers during this period.
These periods provide an excellent time for fathers to establish a good one-on-one relationship with their child separate from the mother’s attachment and relationship. The bonding is different, yet certainly available. As the child develops through toddler-hood and the early years, the father finds it easier to have a relationship.
The twos and teenage years are especially difficult for fathers since they involve acceptance and nurturing our children’s power and independence even from us. Because fathers, being male, have more in common with sons, their attachment to their daughters is extremely strong especially when attempting to protect them from other men. Yes, we know who we are. Letting go, struggle by struggle, leaves us the inevitable parent of an adult who not longer “needs” our guidance. We have given them all we have. Now, we must learn to trust and let go in love so that we can continue our relationship with our children.