All Articles Tagged "fatherhood"
I’m a big kid at heart, despite my reputation as a genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist. Laugh if you will, but I’ve always been into comic books, creativity, day dreaming and other forms of self-generated, introverted mental stimulation.
So, I have always been fond of the great pagan holiday Halloween, because it allows me to dress up as something cool and also see children express their creative, all for a couple pieces of diabetes inducing treats. I get it. This year I was The Incredible Hulk and I committed to the character by tearing up some old clothing I could have donated to somebody in need. But, I wanted to go in. Dedication.
As I perused over social media, I noticed that other parents were committed in other ways with their kids. I saw a number of “costumes” that were inappropriate, ignorant and dumb, however entertaining they came across on the Facebook feed. The one that drove me over the edge was a parent that dressed kids up as Kevin Hart and his fiancée Eniko Parrish. In the original image of celebrity couple, they are dressed up with Eniko in a plunging neckline. The parents replicated the picture and dress the girl with cleavage to have her look as much like Eniko as possible.
Cleavage, fam? And since when was Kevin Hart and his fiancée worthy of a Halloween costume anyway? I’ll answer that in a bit.
That wasn’t the only one. I and others griped about the mass movement (there were several) to dress kids up like Cookie of the hit show “Empire.” I saw small children dressed up as Niggaz With Attitude – N.W.A. Nice. I also saw others that were less offensive, but just dumb. Ok, so I chuckled at Lil’ Katt Williams, but why? Are you not entertained?
Sexualizing kids. What the hell is wrong with parents? Kids don’t even know who they are dressing up as. And if they do, that’s an even bigger issue. This means, there’s a double wrong happening. If your children watch “Empire,” Katt Williams specials or listen to N.W.A. we have a major issue. So why do it?
Social media. Attention. I can only assume that a parent, being a fan of Kevin Hart, dresses their kids like him in hopes that he/she will get noticed by the super star comedian. Then, Kevin retweets to millions of follows and viral sensation ensues. Right? The kids are now famous! Yay. Perhaps I am taking this too far. Maybe not. This is how people are raising their kids and we wonder why our communities are messed up. Historically, Black parents would pull out a switch if their kids did some dumb mess like that, but now today’s parents are the ones perpetuating it. Low values. No self-respect. Whoring for attention. At any cost.
Grow up. Let kids be kids. Join in on the fun. Part of the reason why I like Halloween so much is because I fondly remember making my costumes with my dad, the creative king of that era. My brother, my dad and me. One year I was Super Chucky. And we made a sword, a shield and armor. I was my own super hero. Who are the heroes now? Cookie? Sure, I didn’t see any “Cookies” as I gave out candy this year (which I have not done in over a decade, because I generally refuse to contribute to the sugar addiction that ravages our communities), but social media pushed me to see plenty of inappropriate costumes.
While it may not be an epidemic, its definitely problematic. Why? Because nobody thinks there’s anything wrong.
How many ridiculous costumes did you see this year?
by Jennifer O’Neill, Yahoo Parenting
Full-custody single dads are a growing group, with 24 percent of single-parent homes headed up by fathers — a ninefold increase since 1960,according to the Pew Research Center. But living that reality can still feel pretty lonely for the man managing everything for his family solo.
To find out what it’s like to be a single dad, the folks at Yahoo Parenting sat down with 42-year-old Ian. He has been raising daughter Lana, 8, on his own in Los Angeles for the past five years — dealing with everything from awkward all-mother playdates to his own dating (or lack thereof).
“When people find out I have full custody of my daughter, it’s like I’m from Mars,” says Ian, who preferred not to share his last name, during his on-camera interview with Yahoo Parenting. “But when it happens, you just kind of do a gut check: Saddle up, I’m all in. Easier said than done, but [she’s] my priority, and so that’s what I do.”
Lana, now in third grade, was just 3 when Ian and Lana’s mother split after seven years together. A year later, the dad was granted full custody. “She’s got a bond with her mom that nothing will ever break up,” he insists of his little girl, who has weekly daytime visits with her mother. Yet for all intents and purposes, the TV industry professional is raising Lana, with the help of a nanny.
One of the biggest learning curves he’s experienced through raising a girl has been “the realization that she is sensitive or emotional in ways that I would not have expected.” Not a naturally gentle communicator, he explains, “I really had to take notice … that my tone matters more than anything when I speak to her.” Then there’s her gravitation toward “girly girl” toys and activities.
He doesn’t share her passion for shopping, either, but when it comes to styling his daughter’s hair, this dad embraces every opportunity. “It’s a moment where you get to be close,” he says. “She can focus on something else, but I’m still getting what I consider intimate time with her. We talk about how to do this, or if there’s a better way, or can she do this better? I kind of like it.”
The duo has been bra shopping together, yet Ian admits, “I’m not looking forward to tampons or maxi pads. My strategy with that — I think I’ve got a year? — is that I’m going to buy a variety pack.”
When asked how she balances her extremely successful TV career with motherhood, writer, producer and mom of three, Shonda Rhimes, took the opportunity to raise a valid point. “Nobody ever asks a man how they do it all.”
She went on to say that by only asking women we’re not being gender equal. She’s right in that it’s a question that I ask working mothers all the time, but not once had I ever thought to ask a man. I assume that he has a wife at home who takes care of the kids. I also assume that men don’t have the same conflict being away from home that we women do.
But is that true? Just because men have the traditional role of being providers does it mean that they don’t care about being at home? Is balancing work and fatherhood as important to them?
I posed the question of balance to a few working fathers and got some interesting answers:
Chris, a busy stage manager in Los Angeles and father of twin boys, says that while working away from home wasn’t a big deal when his boys were babies. Now that they’re two-years-old and developing their personalities, it’s hard for him to leave. As it stands, he works five or six days a week and usually only has one day off.
Balance is important.
“I have three commitments. Myself, my wife and my kids. All deserve time so you gotta work it out.”
He works it out by scheduling his day off with time for himself, which usually includes early morning golf, and time with the boys. Some days he takes the boys with him and kills two birds with one stone, so to speak. Date nights get scheduled too. He says, “When the man is the breadwinner there’s no built-in system in place to make sure you’re okay so you have to schedule your life, and remind yourself to take time for you.”
For Harold, a FedEx worker and father of two, finding balance meant taking a job that pays him less, but allows him to be home in the mornings and early afternoons. “I cherish the time with my kids because I believe they make me a better person. Hopefully, my daughter will find a guy like her dad…she sees me cook and clean and go to work, I take her to school everyday. It’s really a great feeling because I know one day she won’t want to be seen with me.”
He adds that he wouldn’t be able to strike such a balance without a loving mate who compliments and enhances the whole process. “It helps greatly to have your kids living with you and your mate.” Harold has been with his wife 11 years and married for four.
If there’s anything we working moms know it’s that it helps to have help.
Louis, a lawyer and dad, recognizes that the only way he’s been able to juggle the constant demands between work and family is through having both his parents and mother-in-law nearby. He also discovered that once he accepted that there will be times when he will have to prioritize work over family, it doesn’t mean that he is establishing work as an absolute priority. “I was able to let go of a lot of the stress and guilt surrounding such moments which actually makes it easier when I have to decide how to deal with conflicts.”
Drop the mic.
Even though men don’t talk about it, they care a lot about the time they spend working away from home. Seeing the thought and effort that goes into the balancing act that they perform in order to make it work, is eye opening.
Admittedly, I’ve spent a lot of time in the past resenting my husband for ‘escaping’ to work while I spent my time at home ‘stuck’ with the kids. It wasn’t until I took a job that barely allowed me to see them that I was able to appreciate being at home and experiencing the little things. It’s comforting to know that men want to experience these things too. But they do have to work. And so do we. Maybe we can work together more.
“The Entertainment Industry: How Do I Get In?”
Good question. And it’s one that record exec and father to the world’s biggest pop star, Mathew Knowles, aka Beyonce’s dad, seeks to answer in a boot camp of the same name geared towards entertainment industry hopefuls on October 24 at the Hobby Center in Houston, Texas. Once the mastermind behind powerhouse R&B group Destiny’s Child who sold an estimated 60 million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful singing groups of all time, he would seem the perfect person to answer this question.
Let’s face it, he started grooming lil’ B into the Queen we know today from the time she was a kid. Even sister Solange has built a notable career as a singer and fashionista in her own right. But some are saying it’s just his latest attempt to further mooch off of his daughter’s fame. Really? Can you mooch off of something that you created?
Is Mr. Knowles being unfairly judged?
First, let’s look at his fall from grace. Word is he cheated on Beyonce’s mom Tina while they were still married and fathered a baby with his side chick. There are also rumors that he was stealing money.
Stealing money? When it comes to parents and their kid’s money is it really stealing? I dip into my kid’s piggy bank all the time when I’m low on funds. Sometimes I give it back. Sometimes I don’t. The way I see it, what’s mine is theirs and what’s theirs is mine. Now these lines could get a little blurrier when millions of dollars are at stake, but surely something could be worked out. If that was indeed the case.
Now back to his cheating, not to condone what he did, but do we really know what the relationship was like between him and Tina all those years? Most of us have no idea what entertainment industry parenting does to a couple. Maybe he and Tina both got caught up and lost the spark that brought them together in the first place. Maybe they drifted apart. What we do know is this mother and father both worked their asses off for their kids to enjoy the level of success they do today. It took planning, hard work and vision.
Obviously, Mr. Knowles isn’t perfect. As a shrewd businessman who will cut a weak link out of Destiny’s Child quicker than an axe murderer, he probably isn’t Mr. Cuddly half the time. Beyonce even said as much to Oprah a few years ago during her exclusive interview: “When you’re trying to have an everyday conversation with your family you have to talk about scheduling and you have to talk about your album and performing and touring. It’s just too stressful and it really affects your relationship…. I wanted my dad.”
Hey, we get it. Child stars move on from their parent’s management all the time. Janet Jackson and Usher did it. There comes a time when you know you got this. But Joe Jackson will always be Joe Jackson, father and mastermind behind all of the Jacksons, and Mathew Knowles deserves some respect too. He should be able to talk about Beyonce, his greatest accomplishment in the entertainment business, and make his money, without all the flack. Personal family issues aside, he earned it.
Are you knocking Mathew Knowles’ hustle?
As many before us have said, there is no handbook to parenting. We’ve been taught that parenting is one of the most rewarding lifetime gigs you see no monetary gains from, a life-changing experience no one is prepared for or mastered and is also unique to every individual. After years of having worked with a variety of personality types and parenting styles, I noticed something interesting. As time progressed the answers to many of my parenting questions became gender specific. For example, it went from, “I have toddler at home who won’t be still” to “Ugh, I don’t want see another Iron Man toy for the rest of my life” to “Good, Lord! Boys are so weird! His mood swings are killing me slow.” And finally, “My, God. My son is growing into a smelly, scrotum-adjusting, Sports Center junkie who eats up all my snacks and farts on command. What the hell happened? Where’s my little boy who loved Iron Man?”
As a mother, the reality of your son growing into a adult who will eventually be someone’s husband and father becomes clear. You start to wonder what kind of future you’ve had a major hand in shaping for generations to come. With careful reflection, I can’t help but evaluate what I’ve learned about men as a gender while raising a boy. And surely, the same goes for fathers and daughters, right?
So for this particular story, we talked to fathers of young daughters to get an idea of what they’ve learned about women while raising their baby girls … and we started in our very own office!
MadameNoire fam, meet Chad Milner. Immediately after the untimely death of his daughter’s mother, Chad took on the daily duties of raising his daughter, Cydney, solo. You can hear his smile and feel his fulfillment when he speaks about his many adventures with “Cyd” who is now a preschooler. Without a doubt, it’s safe to assume he wouldn’t trade his life as a single father for the world.
Take a look at what he–and a few other dads–have to say about their learning experience since raising daughters.
Essentially, before my daughter was born, I lived my life like this: I want as little karma as possible to come my way because I feel like I’m going to have a daughter. Unfortunately, I’ve made some d**khead moves and broken a couple hearts along the way and I had to chalk it to the game. But now, having a daughter, one of the things I’m really keen on is this: anybody that I’m seeing, I want to treat them the way I want my daughter treated. Whether it’s one date or a lifetime, it’s something I really try to do. That’s probably why I attract women who are daddy’s girls. I typically date women who have incredibly tight relationships with their father but, then again, I guess you attract what you are. To add to that, Dad is a girl’s first love – so for me, knowing that my daughter will grow up and start dating, I need her to know what to look for in a man by showing her myself. And just a word of advice to single fathers: if you have a little girl, figure it out! If you need to learn how to braid hair, figure it out. If you need to learn to cook, there’s YouTube for that. And you know what? That’s what kids are for, they soften you up and make you stronger at the same time. And I have to remember, as much as you’re raising them, they’re also raising you. – Chad Milner – MadameNoire Contributor and single father
What have I learned about women raising my daughters? That’s a good question. It’s the little things. I’ll give you the prefect example. We bought my daughter a bike for her birthday this summer, she just turned four. It was pink and had the little trainers and streamers with sparkles on it and, of course, we had to get her a helmet. So, before we gave her the bike, I doodled a little character on her helmet and signed it. My wife said it was corny and that I shouldn’t mark up her brand new helmet but I said, ‘Whatever.’ So she sees the bike and got on it and when we went to put the helmet on her, she sees my little drawing and she was like “Daddy, you did drew that?” and her eyes lit up and she carried that helmet under her arm for the entire party and was running around telling everybody I “drawed” on her helmet. She was so happy to share something so simple, not the bike. That’s really what made me realize it’s the little things. It’s the thought that counts. – Jermaine, 42, father of three
I’ve learned that in order to make a woman happy, as a man, you have to be patient. My baby girl is only 16 months old and she’s way more advanced than my son was at her age. She’s walking, talking and more than anything, doing really well at expressing what she wants, and she knows how to get it – from me and her mom. For me, she’ll point and lean towards something and we’ll talk our way to the register. For her mom, she’ll whine and throw a fit until she gets her way. It’s funny. But to get back to the patience part, I’ve learned that women are emotional to point where you can’t take it personally, they’re just emotional. She gets mad at me and will twist her face, fold her arms, stomp and be genuinely irritated with me, then two minutes later comes over and gives me a hug and acts like nothing happened. I’m like, wow! That’s how y’all do it, huh? So I’ve learned that as long as a woman has what she wants, she’s content. It’s that simple. And I’ve learned, through my daughter, that they really don’t want much. Love, affection, attention and mutual respect – it’s really that simple. I would’ve saved myself from so much drama if I had learned that sooner. – Charles, 33, father of two
How you love her is going to determine what she calls love as an adult. I learned this to be true with my ex-wife. I still love her dearly. I had both my kids with her and we really fought the good one for some years to try and keep the family together, but it came to a point where I had to realize that loving her was killing me. I’d do anything for that woman and for a long time I thought that love could change a person and make them whole…it just doesn’t. Her relationship with her father until the day he died was awful. He was abusive to her and her mother and brother and she always talked about how rejected she felt by him. Let me say this – throughout our marriage, if I felt just a little bit of the rejection she felt growing up then she felt pretty s****y for a really long time and that’s no way to live. She never made peace with her father and I really believe that if they had made amends and tried to work out their differences, both of their lives would’ve been different. Heck, my life would be different! I just couldn’t convince her that she was deserving of love from an honest man like myself and it destroyed us. Like the other day, I was painting my nine-year-old daughter’s toenails at the house when she came to pick the kids up and she finally let me paint hers. After all these years, she finally let me make a loving gesture towards her without suspicion and it took 15 years. I could go on and on but if you don’t love you daughter, she won’t know it when it’s real. She won’t know how to accept and return it either. – Samuel, 41, father of two
Rule No. 1 in the busy-husband playbook: Find a way to be more present at home.
On More.com, President Barack Obama writes about how being the President has made him a better father to daughter’s Malia and Sasha.
Here are some of our favorite quotes:
“It just so happens that I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by women. They’re the most important people in my life. They’re the people who’ve shaped me the most. And in this job, they are my sanctuary.”
“When Malia was born, Michelle and I were fortunate enough to spend a blissful three months mostly at home with our baby girl. But then Michelle went back to work part time, and I returned to my schedule of teaching at the University of Chicago law school and serving in the state legislature. This meant that I would often be away in Springfield for three days at a time… As professionals, we were blessed with the resources for things like reliable child care and takeout when we were too exhausted to cook. Our jobs afforded us the kind of flexibility that many working families simply don’t have. Still, we each had a truckload of student debt, which meant that when we got married, we got poorer together. … After Sasha was born, Michelle was working while juggling our home life. I helped out, and I saw myself as a pretty enlightened guy. But the truth was, I helped on my terms and on my schedule, and the expectations and the burden disproportionately—and unfairly—fell on Michelle, as happens to many women.”
“But to our surprise, moving to the White House was really the first time since the girls were born that we’ve been able to gather as a family almost every night. Michelle and I can go to parent-teacher conferences together. I’ve been able to make Malia’s tennis matches and Sasha’s dance recitals. Sasha let me help coach her basketball team—the Vipers. They won the title. I’ve even experienced what all dads dread: watching my daughter go to her first prom. In high heels.”
“Even with our jam-packed days, Michelle and I work hard to carve out certain blocks of family time that are sacrosanct. For example, at 6:30 PM, no matter how busy I am, I leave work to go upstairs and have dinner with my family. That’s inviolable. My staff knows that it pretty much takes a national emergency to keep me away from that dinner table.”
by David Dennis
This column has never been and will never pretend to be an advice column. There won’t ever be any expert opinion disseminated by yours truly for a couple of reasons: I don’t think I’ll ever truly know what I’m doing as a parent and I’m starting to think “expert opinion” in terms of parenting is an oxymoron along the lines of “perfect marriage” or “daddy knows best.” Half of the things I said I’d never do as a parent, I’ve already done. And half the things I said I’d make sure I’d do, I end up falling asleep before I get a chance to do. So the last thing I ever want to do it is come off as some know-it-all parent or marriage advisor. However, I’ve seen friends and even family fall victim to some traps that I can’t help but wonder if they’re just perpetuating unhealthy practices.
For example: I may be wrong, but I find it hard to believe that your child is your best friend. He’s not your man. She’s not the love of your life. They’re your children. And it seems like refusing to set those boundaries lead to issues down the road.
As readers of my earlier columns already know, I spent six straight months at home with my son. The two of us spent eight or 10 hours every day, just the two of us, wrestling, eating, playing video games and learning. Even now, some of the most fun I have in a day is getting to play and spend time with my son before and after daycare.
But he’s not my best friend. I don’t discipline my best friend. I don’t grab my best friend’s hand and tell him “no” when he starts to hit himself in a tantrum. I don’t try to teach my best friend new words and I damn sure don’t change my best friend’s diaper. No, that’s how I treat my son. My friends are my equal. When they make decisions and tell me or ask for advice, I offer my opinion and don’t try to force them to do what I think is right. They either choose to listen or they don’t. My son doesn’t have that option. He doesn’t get to argue his case (especially considering that argument would consist of slobber and babbling) and he doesn’t get to dismiss what I say. Allowing him to do that would mean that I wasn’t his parent anymore. And my son needs his dad.
Last week, I got sick all of a sudden and had to take my son to the doctor’s office with me. When I was in the office, the doctor did her customary blood pressure check, breathing check and checked my throat. As she proceeded through her check-up my son got increasingly worried and started to try to protect me from the doctor. He would try to move her hand, jump between her instruments and me and hug me so she wouldn’t come anywhere near me. It was really one of the cutest thing ever, however I don’t want him to get used to it.
I don’t want my son to grow up feeling like he needs or wants to protect his parents. I want him to grow up and be a kid. The same goes for my step-daughter, who we have to train not to ask if I had to work harder or earn more money to take us to a nicer restaurant. I want them to toe the line between having responsibilities and feeling like they need to be adults.
After my parents divorced it was just my mother and me at home. She did a great job of not putting pressure on me to be “the man of the house” or make me feel the need to take on too many responsibilities so I could focus on being a kid or getting into the best college. Sure, I felt an innate responsibility to look out for my mother and the rest of my family but there was a clear boundary between parent and child. I want to provide that same comfort for my children.
This applies to mothers and their boys, too. There’s a slippery slope between having a loving relationship with your son and having him act as a surrogate boyfriend. Or the fathers who treat their daughters like girlfriends or how they should have treated the child’s mother.
Our children are our children. They need our protection, love and support. As parents it can be easy to need their love and bathe in it because they have so much to give. Still, it’s even more important that we allow them to be children and let us deal with the hard parts.
Now, excuse me while I got wrestle with my son.
I consider myself a very good father. Still, there are times when I feel I am doing my daughter a disservice. We try and yet sometimes we still fail. We teach only to fail again! I encourage you – my fellow parents – to share your “sins” with us as well. Here are mine.
1. Energy Drinks
I do my best to practice what I preach. I know kids are sponges that absorb everything that we do. I also know they see better than the NSA! But, there is one thing I cannot seem to defeat – the energy drink. I know they are not good for me, and I tell my kid – don’t do it! Yet, I still have to take them from time to time, because of my crazy schedule – professional and parental. Since I am marathon training, I try to frame it around my need for an dramatic boost in energy. Secretly, I think she knows that I am overworked and stressed. Maybe depressed, depending on the day. Still, I extoll the glorious virtues of natural energy, despite my hypocritical ways!
I can’t help myself. When I reflect, I often wish my parents had pushed me harder. I never quite got to being great at anything, because I had some form of ADD that wouldn’t let me master anything. To this day, I am an art school drop out. Anyway, I will have none of it with my kid. She is going to operate at a high level, whether she likes it or not. I feel like the parents from the 1960’s or something. Muhammad Ali started boxing at the tender age of 12 and his reign continued for decades. Understand, these kids don’t always have the inmate desire to be great. I think you have to consistently remind them they are supposed to be great and obligated to do better than their parents. I know there are times when my daughter hates me for keeping her out of her comfort zone. I gotta do what I gotta do. Oh yeah – she can box too. And run 10 minutes miles.
3. Forcing Frivolous Values On The Child
There are several things that are important to me. The Philadelphia Eagles are important to me and thankfully my daughter is now a die-hard Eagle. She’s also into comic books even though after I gave her a Spiderman shirt, she asked if she could bedazzle it. Uh, yeah. Anyway, there are a few other frivolous things that I want my daughter to be into, even though they really have no real importance in the grand scheme of things. To me, the Eagles represent hard work and dedication despite insurmountable odds. Comic books have a plethora of benefits even though most people see them as mere fantasia. Sorry to disappoint…nothing reality TV related here.
4. Overruling The School Education
At some point, my daughter’s teachers are probably going to hate me. I came up in the 80’s and we questioned just about everything under the sun. We were not about that [President] Reagan life. We were not just accepting any authority. We realized the truth about everything that was enforced like, uh, Lincoln freeing slaves. My kid comes home one day talking about September 11, with a very basic worksheet. I felt the sheet was far too basic for such a complex topic. After listening to hear read the page, we ended up talking for hours about everything from September 11 to Hiroshima to how Bin Laden was once a CIA…well, nevermind. The point is, I seek to have a very well-educated kid. Not a well-programmed kid, but someone who seeks knowledge and wisdom instead of only good grades.
5. No Candy And Crap!
For years…for years…I would take my daughter’s evil Halloween candy and eat it for myself. I would tell her how horrible candy was and turn around and succumb to my own confectionary addictions. I have gotten myself off candy (like some get off crack), but now there are times when I feel guilty. A part of me thinks she should enjoy the candy she obtains. Nah. Nevertheless, there is a part of me that wants to succumb to the evils like fast food, which I consumed in my brokest, most formative years. If I can help it, my daughter will live to be 375.5 years old, because she has not eaten crappy food since age four.
We all have vices. Just do the best you can and when you come sort of perfection, know that the rights far outweigh the wrong.
Father and son bonding is an essential part of a child’s development but sometimes finding the time can be a challenge. Dads, if you have a busy schedule, you are going to have to re-arrange some things to fit this in. Some of these activities are good in the long run because you are introducing your little guy to positive pastimes that he might keep up in the future. Many of these are moments you and your son will never forget and it’s so nice to have keepsakes. Make sure you take lots of pictures and father and son selfies and occasionally have your son write about his experience and put the date on it.
Here are some simple and inexpensive father and son bonding ideas…
Riding bikes is a great way to take in beautiful scenery and bond. You are having fun, sharing funny moments, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. If you can make this one a staple then do it once a month.
Fishing is a way to unwind while teaching sportsmanship, discipline and responsibility.
Playing With Radio-Controlled Car’s Or Planes
A radio-controlled boat, car or plane can be very exciting. The bonding can start when you go to the store to pick one out. Not only are you getting alone time, but you are teaching patience and good hand/eye coordination.
Obviously you don’t want your son obsessed with video games, but if he is already into them, then an occasional gaming competition can be really fun to attend. It will show your son that you are taking an interest in things he likes. Coming into his world of gaming is a great way to find out what kinds of games he’s into and to help teach him fair play and how to avoid being sore loser.
Camping is a great way to teach your son to have an appreciation for mother nature. It can be therapeutic to sit and listen to the water and cook things together over the fire like hot dogs and smores. Camping should be done in your comfort zone so you can set up a tent or even rent a cottage, depending on how much you want to rough it.
This is a very popular one but it’s always fun to attend a sports game. If you and your son have a favorite team then go together to the store to buy matching hats or shirts with your team’s name on it. You may also want to bring some hot dogs and sodas in a cooler and tailgate right before or after the game for some extra father son talk time since the game will be loud.
Join a father son sports team like soccer or basketball. Joining a team together means that you will have to spend time practicing together for games too. He will learn the spirit of teamwork and it could be a great confidence booster too. Let your son chose the sport so that he feels like you value his opinion.
During special occasions throughout the year the card aisle in the stores are filled with a variety of special sayings that are supposed to evoke memories from the past and childhood. But what if those memories don’t exist.? What if your father was physically there in your house growing up, but emotionally absent? Abuse comes in different forms and just because it’s not physical, doesn’t mean it’s not toxic or dysfunctional.
All loving relationships should be healthy and create a sense of mutual respect. I found an excerpt of a woman who says her dad was emotionally absent her whole life. Here is what she had to say…
My father is passive abusive. His emotional abuse is very covert. Mostly he just doesn’t care, doesn’t listen when I talk to him, doesn’t know anything about me, my life or my kids because he doesn’t care to know and he doesn’t listen to anyone who tries to tell him. To the general public (and according to my siblings), my father is regarded as this ‘nice’ guy and he is never violent, never mean and never hurtful with his words, but the truth is that his relationship style is dismissive and disinterested all of which is very hurtful. I spent many years in childhood and in adulthood ‘begging’ (in all kinds of ways) my emotionally abusive father to notice me. The fact that he didn’t was and is very hurtful. There is a very loud message that is delivered to me when I am disregarded. The message is that I don’t matter, that I am not important, that I am not worth listening to and that I don’t have anything to contribute to his life. My father is emotionally unavailable, and that is very hurtful. Love is an action and love doesn’t damage self-esteem. Love doesn’t define a ‘loved one’ as insignificant.
So why are some parents emotionally absent?
Well, this can be a long list but some reasons may include that their parents were the same way, they are dealing with their own life disappointments, they are depressed and could never pull out of it, they could have some chronic illness that keeps them grumpy and distant. Regardless of the reason why, it can still be very painful for children involved.
If you had, and still have an emotionally absent parent here are some things to try:
Don’t Ignore Your Emotions
The way you feel is valid and important. Don’t ever shove your emotions under a rug to make someone else feel better. It’s important to have an outlet. Whether that outlet is a therapist, journaling, or talking to a best friend, try and figure a way to get some things out from childhood.
Stop asking this parent to do things you know he will continue to say no to because you will just continue to get disappointed every time. Instead, if you know you have to be around him a lot or at least for family gatherings, deal with him accordingly. Keep the conversations short and sweet and keep it moving. Send your love and prayers from a distance because that’s all you really can do for now until he ever heals himself.
Don’t Blame Yourself
My father was never in my life at all (physically or emotionally) and I had a tendency to wonder over the years, what did I do to deserve that? The answer is: nothing! Remember that your father is a human being with his own very serious issues that could range from depression to being mentally ill and it’s not your fault.
Focus on Self
The best thing you can do when you have hurt and painful memories from an emotionally absent father is slowly re-build your own self-esteem. This is a process and will vary per person but could start in the most simple way. It will not happen overnight but you could even buy some sticky notes and write positive things about yourself and put them all over the house where you can see them. Leave them up until you start to believe some of them. You could read books on self-esteem or join a support group for women that are in your same boat to see what works for them. But whatever you do don’t dwell in the sadness. If you allow his behavior to ruin your entire life, he wins.