“You invest in their very best and show you have unconditional support and care for them”
Now, it’s been a while between Dadhood Insights, but we’re glad to say they are well and truly back! We were lucky enough to sit down with Ray, a father of four adult children who are at the point of having their own kids. As a man who has recently become a grandfather for the first time, we think it’s safe to say he has some sagacious words on dadhood.
What’s the greatest part of being a dad?
To be a part of your children’s lives and to be there to help them. It’s so rewarding to help them, you feel as if you’ve made a difference to someone’s life. It’s about helping someone reach their potential. It’s all about encouragement, fostering and showing love and being willing to stand back to let them try to discover things.
The thing I always say about being a parent is that you have a child who is completely dependent and then over time, if you are willing to do it, you allow them to become independent. If you do your job well, it is seamless and the kid becomes independent. It’s about providing them with some boundaries to push and challenge during this journey.
You invest in their very best and show you have unconditional support and care for them.
How do you learn to be a dad?
I think you learn as you go, on the job. You read books to get you out of hospital…and then it’s almost all up to you!
My training as a primary and secondary educator gave me some insight into supporting and working with kids. As they got older it came down to some seemingly simple thing: getting involved in various parts of their lives.
I’ve been fortunate to have an incredible principal at my children’s secondary school be a key influence in my parenting life. I think I learned from him that it’s always been about setting clear boundaries, expectations and standards…and then being able to follow through on them.
What’s the biggest challenge as a dad?
Knowing that at some point your child will go through incredible tough times and that we need to prepare them for those times. The challenge is in teaching your children that they must go through failure at some point, but through doing so they will use those times to grow stronger.
That said, I always found it tricky dealing with times my children didn’t succeed academically, socially or emotionally. Watching them go through those periods of disappointment was tough. Words of counsel or advice could help, but it’s hard watching them get through those times.
How has being a dad changed over time?
My dad came from the seen and not heard era, where a father was the discipline provider when he came from work. My father and mother taught us about being together for meals, being and speaking together about our day and build confidence in public speaking. A simple thing like being together and talking every night adds up and really can change your children’s lives.
With our children if they missed the bus then it was on them to solve the problem. Today, parents seem to always solve problems for their children and don’t give them a chance to search for a solution. It seems today we have forgotten the benefits of failure
And what about dads of this century?
Dads today are even more involved than we were. There is so much more support and encouragement. The only thing I worry about is the pressure that can amount from within themselves. Feeling they have to be providing as much as possible from all avenues perfectly is only setting them up for failure.
Helicopter parents who are too involved and unable to let their kids go are also something that concerns me. We need to step back and give them space.
Finally, the most important part of dadhood is to…
love your kids unconditionally. Support and encourage them, even if that sometimes means letting them go out on their own.
Three Things Every Dad Should Know:
1. If there is any assistance needed you give as much effort as possible.
2. The child doesn’t owe you anything in return for the effort you put in – it’s your job as a dad.
3. Don’t do for a child what they could do for themselves.
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