Becoming a dad is the beginning of a turbulent journey. One that will bring stress, love, and joy in turn. Being a father takes a certain mindset that when committed to can help a family trive. The saying is true, ‘there is no manual’, and many men, like myself, were thrown in at the deep end with no real warning. It literally becomes a case of sink or swim.
I believe the biggest hurdle in parenting is stress. Women go through their own emotional struggles as they adjust mentally and physically to new motherhood. Whereas we men face our own pressures. And if you can find a way to meet stress in a way that you build resilience to it, fatherhood becomes a whole new journey.
There needs to be a solid foundation on which a healthy family can be built. A spirit of patience and love at the centre of a home can create an environment in which the whole family can thrive. Meeting stressful daily events with intolerance and resentment only fragments relationships and builds more tension.
Most of what I have learned about fatherhood has been taken from the broken down relationship with my own dad. I know the type of parent I don’t want to be. My children will be raised in a loving home with open communication, love, and support. Discipline especially must come from a spirit of love. Anger only fuels anger
Men must bring a level of stability and calm to a home, and I didn’t always get it right. My wife was a stay at home parent when the triplets came home. She was dealing with hard days when I returned to work. It was a massive undertaking. She was also breastfeeding, which required that she stay calm and relatively stress free. It took me a few months to adjust myself. I became resentful and overwhelmed in the beginning, fuelled by exhaustion and stress. I sank mentally for a while. It was tough going with 3 babies all in need of attention.
But thankfully, I snapped out of my negativity. I had to. I didn’t want to be the dad who couldn’t handle the situation. Beaten down by stress and frustration, I was only creating problems under my roof. I knew the problem and also knew the solution. Anger had pierced me, and I had to become free from it.
No man likes to admit they have an anger problem. I certainly didn’t. But as much as I was suppressing it, I couldn’t escape it. I resented that I couldn’t get enough sleep, and I resented the feelings of separation I felt. My mother in law moved into help, and I really felt like I was on the outside looking in. It was all new to me, and I wasn’t one hundred per cent sure as to what I was doing. I was beginning to feel like a loose end. Instead of being grateful for the help we had, I resented it.
My new reality was something I had to get a grip of. If I couldn’t deal with the pressures of early parenting, my life was going to get one hell of a lot harder. My family needed me emotionally and spiritually present. I had to do more than just go through the motions of work and home-life each day.
The real problem I had was resentment. It was clouding my judgment and adding tension to an already difficult situation. I was like a zombie, stumbling unconsciously through my days and drowning in self-pity under the surface. I had to wake up! One way to spiritually awaken is through non contemplative meditation. And it took me just days to get back into the stream of life when I realised something had to give.
A fathers strength lies in his ability to practice patience and tolerance in the face of adversity. Free from anger and with a protection against stress, life became manageable once more. I had more energy as I wasn’t burning myself out trying to constantly manage my emotions and trying to control everything. My erratic emotions are naturally regulated as a result of meditation. In waking up, I found my role at home and began to enjoy fatherhood. Tensions also lifted, and even though tiring, home-life became one of love.
I was able to feel a part of the journey for the first time since they were born. I continue to meditate daily and be the man my family needs. All it takes is for me to be awake. And whilst in that conscious state, I find all I need just comes. I now intuitively deal with life without struggling. Problems are just opportunities for growth, and there’s no shortage of those.
Here’s the link to the free, non religious meditation exercise that I use. Just 10 minutes in the morning and last thing at night is enough to become, and remain conscious.
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