Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The 3 P's of Paternity

Patience... Presence... and Partnership...

P #1 - Patience:

Everyone knows that you're supposed to be patient with your children. I consider it to be one of those, "Well, duh!" things that you just do. Kids require it because having a child will often prove to be one of the most frustrating things you will ever do in life. Here's the catch, it's not just the child that you need to be patient with. It's yourself. You have to have the patience to allow yourself to learn to be a good father. Even if you've read all the parenting books in the world, the first time you hold that little baby in your arms you will realize that all of that information gathering was just academic and you know how to apply absolutely NONE OF IT! Don't panic, get centered, and be patient with yourself. Nobody is born a good parent... you have to learn it... and earn it.

P #2 - Partnership:

You don't raise a child by yourself. Even if you're a widower you've still got people who will be a part of your child's life. The child's mother, grand-parents, step-mother, nanny, teacher, Aunts, Uncles, etc. All of these people are in partnership with you to raise your child and like it or not you need them; you can't do it alone. So, listen to them, call them for help... your child will thank you for it. Often times these people love your child almost as much as you do; let them show it. I've always said that my daughters receive so much love from everyone they know that they have to give it away to everyone that they meet.

P #3 - Presence:

You have to "be there".  Because without "presence" the rest of it falls apart. Doctor's appointments, parent-teacher conferences, story-time, dinner time... etc.  But, you can't just show up... you've got to participate.  I don't know how many times I've seen a father out with their kids and they're on their phone.  The kid usually looks really bored and more often than not manages to get him or herself in trouble by trying to engage dad in a conversation while he is on his phone.  Let's face facts.  Those guys are just going through the motions and if you try an call them on it they will launch into some tirade about how they're too busy and they work hard to provide and the kids should be grateful for this time.  My answer is simply this, don't you think your child would rather you worked a little less and spent more time with them.  I'm going to go a little off track here, but we've become a culture that centers our lives around the accumulation of "stuff"... and it's killing us.  You really want to know the secret of what is killing the so-called "American Family"... it's this culture of greed.  We value the things we can buy more than the people that surround us.  It's sad.

... anyway... Back to my point, turn the phone off, take the damn bluetooth thingie out of your ear and put in a little effort.  You'll be grateful you did.  Being present and participating is not just for your child's benefit; it's for yours as well. It builds and strengthens your relationship with your child and you cannot put a value on that.

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