Change and Fatherhood

Our children come from us but they are not ours to control, they have their own lives to lead, their own mistakes to learn from and their own challenges to overcome. We can guide them but we cannot change them and the examples we set are one of the most powerful ways of guiding them.

Childhood is a time when children are learning and acquiring the tools that will shape their adult lives. If we are really concerned as to how good a job we are doing with our children – then I believe we should ask ourselves how good is the example we are setting? Are they thinking wow! I cannot wait to be grown-up, grown ups have a great time?’.

For instance how many of us are demonstrating to our children that time is something over which adults have no control? That when you grow up you always have to be rushing everywhere, grabbing five minutes with your children in between everything else? Each time a child witnesses this it reinforces in them the belief that they too will struggle for time when they grow up. More importantly, perhaps, they measure their own sense of self-worth against our attitudes to them. If we have so little time available for them, what conclusions will they reach about their own value in the world?

And what about love? If you are in a relationship, are you able to demonstrate to your children that you respect your partner, that you share openly and listen attentively? What messages are you giving the children in your life about the nature of adult relationships? That they are valuable and joyful parts of life that have to be worked at - or that they are problematical things which warrant little time or discussion, and which certainly feature lower down the list of priorities than work and money?

Fun is another commodity in children’s lives that adults all too often forget about. Do the children around you see you as someone who takes their fun seriously and creates regular spaces for it in life? What effect will it have on them if they start to believe that being a grownup seems to imply having little or no fun?

Our children are also learning about the power of money from us. What do they observe in you? Someone who is comfortable with and open about the subject of money - however much or little you may have?

And what of work? Do your children see a father going off to work who loves what he does (without being addicted to it) and who is able to return in the evening being not only able to share what has happened to him but also being able to listen to what his children and partner have done?

If I could get just one point across to men about fathering/mentoring children it would be this. It is who you are, your daily example, that affects children more than anything else you can ever teach them. It is not who you are for the two weeks holiday once every fifty two weeks that makes the difference.

If you want to help raise happy, balanced children, seek to become a happier, more balanced person. All the books, all the theories - and even all your material success - they mean nothing to children. What means everything to them is who you are, how you are and what you can do with them.”

Try the Following:-

1) Try to see the world through a child’s eyes. Children aren’t always after results, they are often just hungry for time and attention. Drop your personal needs to meet goals and value the time you have to give as much as the ‘success’ of any activity you may be involved in with a child.

2) Check what you may be projecting onto the children in your life. Are you doing things with them that meet their needs or yours?

3) Children have their own lives to lead. Let them live them – don’t be tempted into trying to make everything alright for them.

©2008, Barry Durdant-Hollamby

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Barry Durdant-Hollamby is the founder of The Art of Change , a UK based organisation specialising in helping individuals and corporations to effect sustainable, holistic, positive change. He works intuitively on a 1-1 or group basis and also conducts many talks and seminars - all without notes or preparation! Barry is also the author of three books the latest of which is The Male Agenda - a book which seeks to inspire men to create greater life balance and happiness. He is the father of two daughters and lives in the South East of England. Contact E-Mail

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