This week, in preparation for some upcoming media interviews, I asked some of our most active fathers in the GetConnectDAD ecosystem this question: “What is most pressing for us as father’s today?”
First of all, I am honored with the responses from around the world, solely focused on helping me do a better job of articulating some of the challenges we face in today’s world. Secondly, the responses included some trends that I am excited to explore over the next few weeks.
Not surprisingly, the most common theme was ‘slow down’ and ‘invest in the present’ with our kids. This theme was consistent across continents, ages, experience-levels, and the numbers of kids.
How interesting is it that fathers all seem to say we need to spend more time with our kids? If we all know we need to spend more time ‘in the present’, why isn’t it happening more consistently. Jobs? Smart phones? Hobbies? What is it that prevents us from sitting down at night and just having a couple of hours listening to our kids make noise, ask questions, read? Do you think that some of our problem is our allowing our kids to get involved in too many activities? I have a few friends who have one or more sporting events every night of every day during the week. They tell me they “love the experience” their kids are getting; however, are they in some way allowing coaches and others do some of the raising of their kids? I hope I don’t upset anyone; however, I just wonder about what would happen if we cut back the outside activities for our kids and had them focus on being home and being in the present. Do you think that would be helpful?
I had to pleasure to sit down to lunch with a couple of my colleagues who were both very honest about their personal struggles in the area of ‘being present.’ Both are good men, incredible fathers with good families, but still they say they need to do more to be ‘present’ in the lives of our kids. The question was asked of me, “What have I learned over the past few months, engaging in the GetConnectDAD community?” My answer was (paraphrasing), “The importance of shutting out the rest of the world and being more present with my kids is probably the most important thing I can do AND like millions of other fathers, I am a work in progress.”
One father, Trevor, of @lovemakeshare, reached out and expressed his concern that we might be creating a ‘perfect’ image of a father. He writes, “… not every dad has to be a pop-music-singing, cordon-bleu cooking, French-braid-tying Renaissance man. Ultimately, the most important thing is going to be dads who are their authentic selves with their kids and don’t give in to the pressure to be all things at all times.”
I feel like Trevor is right on with his worry. Our kids don’t want us to be all bearded men with six pack abs and great cooks, they want us to be there. Full Stop.
The issues facing our kids require us to be more present. One father asked me, “If we aren’t there, who will be?”
According to the State of the World’s Father, published by A MenCare Advocacy group, “In the United States, one survey found that 46 percent of fathers said they were not spending enough time with their children, compared with 23 percent of mothers.”
“Approximately 80 percent of men will become biological fathers at some point in their lives, and virtually all men have some connection to children – as relatives, as teachers, as coaches, or simply as community members. Whether they are biological fathers, stepfathers, adoptive or foster fathers, or legal guardians; whether they are brothers, uncles, or grandfathers; whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships; and whether they live with their children or not, men’s participation in the daily care of others has a lasting influence on the lives of children, women, and men, and an enduring impact on the world around them. “
“…men’s participation in the daily care of others has a lasting influence on the lives of children, women, and men, and an enduring impact on the world around them.” What an incredible statement.
The report goes on to state, “Fathers’ involvement has been linked to higher cognitive development and school achievement, better mental health for boys and girls, and lower rates of delinquency in sons. Studies in multiple countries have shown that fathers’ interaction is important for the development of empathy and social skills in sons and daughters.”
Notice, it does NOT say, “father’s who spend 80 hours per week with their kids have such an impact” or “ fathers who prepare meals and stay at home” have an impact. It simply says fathers’ involvement.
To make this happen, we need to encourage dad’s to disconnect from work and distractions and just engage with their kids in whatever way they feel most comfortable. We can not be prescriptive and tell fathers how to engage with their kids. We fathers need to be encouraging and stand together to support each other. Do you and your kids like to play video games? Do you and your kids like to camp? Do you and your kids like comic books? Cooking? Play dough? Murder Mystery Games? What it is you like to do? Whatever your thing is, the most important thing is to live ‘in the moment.’ Like Nike Said, “just do it.”
What is GetConnectDAD?
A team of fathers developing content focusing on 52 characteristics we want in our children. Throughout this journey, we hope parents find some useful hints, some suggested activities, and some new ideas to engage deeper with their children. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us. We would love for you to join us by following us on Twitter, “Like” us on Facebook, or “sign up” for our newsletter. There are social media icons directly right of this article!
Every Monday, we will release an article on the topic of the week. During the remainder of the week, we post on topics that relate directly to our the weekly topic here on GetConnectDAD!
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