Being a great father
To me being a father is one of the greatest privileges I have experienced in my life. I have two daughters one aged 20 and the other aged 10 from two different marriages. Having spent many Christmases with both my daughters my wife and my ex wife has demonstrated to me that even though a marriage may finish it is possible to still create a partnership with an ex when you are committed to making it work.
I have often reflected on what is the key to being a great father and I am not saying I have the answer, I still make many mistakes and I am clear that in relationship to my eldest daughter when I stopped being the authority in her life and started being a friend is when my relationship transformed. In other words I stopped being the boss and started getting along side her and getting in to her world and opening up to possible solutions verses telling her what to do. It works.
There is no right time for this and it really depends on both the emotional intelligence of both parties. My suggestion would be no later than 13 or 14 years of age and no earlier that 9 or 10.
So the best way to be a great dad is at some stage stop being a dad and shifting the context of the relationship to more of a friendship as that is really what they need.
I read a quote once which I have copied below and it really shaped how I related to being a father and I trust that it has a positive effect for anyone who reads it.
THE UNHURRIED JOURNEY
When we adults think of children there is a simple truth we ignore.
Childhood is not a preparation for life,
childhood is life.
A child isn’t getting ready to live,
a child is living.
The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question,
“What are you going to be?”
Courageous would be the youngster who,
looking the adult squarely in the face, would say,
“I’m not going to be anything, I already am”
We adults would be shocked by such a insolent remark for we have forgotten,
if indeed we ever knew,
that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he is born.
Childhood isn’t a time when he is molded into a human who will then live life,
he is human who is living.
No child will miss the zest and joy of living,
unless these are denied him by adults
who have convinced themselves,
that childhood is a period of preparation.
How much heartache we would save ourselves,
if we would recognise the child as a partner with adults,
in the process of living,
rather than always viewing him as an apprentice.
How much we would teach each other,
adults with the experience
and the children with the freshness.
How full both our lives could be.
A child may not lead us,
but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him,
for after all
Life is his or her journey too.