I have discovered first-hand over the last five years what is involved in parenting. From problem solving, nurturing, to discipline and encouragement. The job is huge and ever evolving (the Frankie we have now is not the same daughter we had a couple of years ago) . It is a role that needs a special approach, such as my willingness to grow with my children’s changes, and to give my full attention as a father.
There were times in the past I felt my own emotional pulls from Frankie’s attachment and talk of her ‘real Dad’. As understandable as it is for her to have that attachment, my pride took little hits occasionally as a step parent providing for her and stepping up to the role of Dad. That pride was just a fear of losing her approval down the road, a self-centred fear.
I was aware of how creeping doubts can create divisions in any relationship. So I needed to be aware of that fear in myself and not give it any attention. The last thing a child needs is a parent putting the untold weight of their need for emotional approval on them. It’s a suffocating burden of a void that a child can never fulfil. It’s why many children grow to resent the people who they are not supposed to feel that way towards. It creates deep conflicts.
I have always encouraged Frankie to talk to me about her Dad, I don’t want her to suppress anything that emotional, through fear of upsetting me, and Frankie carries that type of consciousness with her. She hates to see people upset, especially if she’s involved at all. We have a good relationship, one of respect, love and trust.
My relationship with my children requires it to be unlike any other relationship I will have. Especially as they grow and develop in their formative years.
My Dad sat me down on more than one occasion and explained that I could either be his best friend, or worst enemy. Those talks have stuck in my memory because I wanted neither of those choices as a child. I wanted someone in my life to guide and encourage me safely into the big wide world. Someone who believed in me.
I am not a Father to be a best friend, I don’t need my children’s approval. Love will be a natural side effect of my consistency and outgoing love, rather than any need my ego may want.
As a Father I also don’t have the right to force any prideful will into my children. I have been entrusted with them. They are not me and their paths will be different ones, as their own personalities begin to develop. I can only guide them and show them a path of love and courage in their early years while under my care. Nor am I here to assert control through self-will. But teach right from wrong with loving discipline. There’s a big difference.
I am here as their Father, to be just that. An example of loving, caring authority in their lives. To practice patience, kindness and virtue. Not to take anything from them emotionally but only provide, so they may discover themselves with a confidence.
A parent is a role like no other. And I must treat it as such.