At the onset of my fatherhood, I made a very conscious effort to pay close attention to everything. In the beginning, that meant mostly the health of my wife and outfitting our home with things we would need for our twins’ arrival. It wasn’t very long before I had to prepare much more than that. That meant me…internally. As the months and trimesters went by, I saw myself intrinsically evolving into a father. The paternal instincts were budding and growing inside. Now, that’s not to say that angst, fear and uncertainty never crept in. In fact, there was a constant battle between the two extremes throughout the pregnancy. In most instances I felt relatively confident and assured that I could handle anything thrown my way. But at any given moment, that could change to doubt. Somehow, I still realized that this is probably normal and that most expectant fathers are likely to share these feelings at one point or another.
As a health coach and personal trainer, my job is much more than creating exercise regimens for my clients. I’d say that the biggest asset of any fitness professional is the ability to inspire, motivate and empower clients to raise their level of self-efficacy. In my consultations, I make a point to shift the power back to the client to give them a greater sense of “I can”. It’s important to ingrain this mindset to reach those goals. Of course, I can’t be there for every one of their workouts, so that confidence has got to carry on outside of my office and even the gym.
During my wife’s pregnancy, I realized that I had to adopt the same philosophy that I so often encourage in my clients. Much like we all need to take ownership of our workouts and our health, we also need the same confidence in our fatherhood.
Empowerment, in my estimation, is the activation of a power that already exists. I’ve listened to a lot of motivational speakers. As valuable as they may be, they don’t usually send people away with new skills or strategies for success. They motivate us to cultivate the success and greatness that already exists within us. They often stress finding our passion and going for it. Seize the day, right? This is not an effort to discredit motivational speakers. In fact, much of what I do outside of fitness is just that. I speak to groups of fathers and empower them to be great at parenting, in their own way. While I do offer strategies and provoke thought on specific topics, I don’t claim to be an expert on parenting. I think one of the goals of any father is to make a concerted effort to build a unique culture in their home. To do so, he’s got to gain, maintain and live with a certain level of confidence that he can handle each situation and succeed as a parent.
I recently spoke with a group of fathers and their elementary school-aged sons. To use an example that the boys could understand, I asked them about microwaves and how to use them. I let them go on about what makes the microwave work. Some of them talked about pushing buttons to choose the cook time and closing the door. Most of them said, “Hit start!” My point to the fathers was that while all of that is valid, the power doesn’t happen until it’s plugged into a power source. Fathers, you are that source! You have the power to activate all the gifts and talents that your children have within them. You’re the source that validates their very existence. When I look at the many examples of terrible people in the world, I can’t help but wonder how they were parented. We have an awesome opportunity to shape the character, cultivate morals and enact a sense of responsibility in brand new people with clean slates! I really think God knew what he was doing with the whole 9-month thing. The process of understanding, accepting and owning that power as a father was quite a ride for me, but by the time my twins arrived, I was eager to rise to the occasion. There are times that I still have to remind myself that I want to be the best father I can to my children, especially when the playoffs are on (I’m very thankful for DVR as well). Whether you are a new dad or a seasoned veteran, be encouraged by your own power! It’s very easy to focus on the negatives, especially when you’re feeling fatigued by life even outside of your fatherhood. It’s natural to miss the things you’ve given up for your families from time to time. Let your value to your children be your power. Let knowing that your presence and demeanor are far more influential than you might think, empower you to be even better!