I have to start this of by just saying, I appreciate my parents for everything they did for me. I love them both with all my heart and I would not be alive today without them. So please do not think I am griping at my dad, none of it was his fault. My Dad worked four jobs to keep food on the table for us. My dad’s dad died when he was 8 and the fatherly figure he had was an old fashioned angry uncle who he spent summer’s with. There was no rational behaviour if something went wrong.
I am a proud Dad of two boys aged 3 and 1. We are also being blessed with our third due in February. The relationship I have with my wife is great, thank God, but it wasn’t always.
We are only together coming on 5 years, and we fell pregnant with our first after only 3 months. When we met, I was coming from a bad place in life, I had a lot of issues from previous relationships, childhood, drug addiction to put it kindly, I was an excuse of a man.
I was making life hell for my girlfriend but I never thought I was at fault. We as people never assume we are at fault but it all came to a head one day. My girlfriend was ready to pack up and leave with the baby. I was desperate because a cold heartless man was being seduced by a year old boy.
I asked my partner what it was she thought I was doing wrong. I sat opposite her and wrote down, the anger issues, me bullying her! And that is a shortened version of the list. This was news to me, I thought I was perfect – what she said just couldn’t possibly be true.
It was still fresh in my head, when one day I noticed myself doing exactly what I was told I did! That moment started a disrespectful, self centred, egotistical, selfish, sexist, excuse of a man on a road that brought me here today.
I have tore my core beliefs to shreds and it was not easy but what I learned along the way and the man I have become because of it, made every moment worth it. I can stand today and say I am a Dad, a husband and a man that I am proud to be, all because I started to be honest with myself.
We’re a product of our parents before us
Most of our parents grew up in very different times. Times when most people had to work to grow their own food. Times were tough. Throw in a lack of educational resources, a necessity to work early in life, and no wealth of information available like we have with the internet today. It was just different times where people’s main priorities were survival.
As a result, a lot of us grew up, lacking true confidence and other necessary, empowered beliefs about ourselves. There was no information available to our parents, letting them know how essential these things are. I lacked belief and trust in myself and others, not knowing how to express my feelings, just anger and I became an expert at expressing that.
There is no excuse for modern men though. With the information available to us, through the internet, we can find all the articles we need on any subject. Including self development and self improvement. There is no excuse if you allow your children to grow up missing the core beliefs about themselves needed in our ever changing world.
You see I never asked my parents why they did what they did, I would have been told we were busy surviving. The majority of the people reading this are blessed. We are blessed with no war, shops to buy all you need. So what’s your excuse going to be? I was watching the game? Work Late? Phone? Laptop? Gambling? Alcohol etc. Will those work when your son or daughter asks you in 20 years time what were you busy doing?
Our Children See More Than We Think
One morning while brushing my teeth with our eldest, he had his back to the door. His mother walked in and never spoke nor did I say anything to her. He said hi to his mum without turning his head once. This really got me thinking. I had read a few things on subconscious learning in children and how everything about daily life and their environment they learn without knowing they’re taking it in.
The saying that young children are like sponges, took a new meaning for me that day. When I realised he felt her presence without seeing her, that made me up my game more. I really do not want to pass on the same problems I had to deal with as an adult. So do not be fooled, they know more than you think and they see and hear all!
Habits We Think Are Ours
If you look at your parents, I’m sure you notice little habits or behaviours that you also do. It is easy to see the good parts, would you be honest enough to look and see the bad things about them? I will give you a tip, the bad things you notice about others… Are the things you do not like about yourself that you do.
So have another look, be unbiased, they are your parents and you love them but if you want to be the best modern dad you can be, that means accepting your flaws and fixing them so as not to pass that on to your children.
These are a few of the things I picked up from childhood.
- I had a belief, the idea that women were less intelligent than men and they were there to serve the man. Which caused me to have a complete disregard towards my partner. Everything that went wrong was her fault it couldn’t be mine. She could never be right and me wrong.
- The belief I was not good enough to be heard, from a busy house, with a lot of arguments and people dealing with their own issues.
- My constant anger, road rage, house rage, just boiling point at all times not understanding how or where I got this habit that developed in my teens. I used to shout for the smallest reason, of course my girlfriend got the majority of this anger directed at her.
Just one of these characteristics in anyone would be bad enough. When you put the three together, it made a hybrid asshole. Just consider all of this for your children’s sake. None of us asked to be born into our surroundings, well not that I remember.
We chose to become dads. Were all doing the best we can from what we currently know. I challenge you become the super dad you think you are. If your sitting thinking I do not have any bad habits, you’re either super dad or you need this the most!
I know from what I went through, I wouldn’t wish the tension, anger, feelings of being hopeless and useless on anybody. Especially not my kids so for them I suffered through change. Or they could share my suffering in 20 years. The choice is yours.
How To Notice And Change Habits
When I began to notice my flaws at first, I knew I had to change. My relationship, family and plans for the future would all be gone otherwise. We had broken up a few times before this, so I knew what it felt like to see my son for a day and a half per week.
I began to search the internet and after reading most of the same stuff, just worded in different ways. Nothing was working and i was getting angrier at myself for not being able to figure it out.
Then it happened, I had a break through one night I figured out how to help myself. Acceptance and forgiveness are widely known as ways to heal from old wounds. The only problem is, nobody supplied any information on what to accept, how to find what you need to accept or anything else. I hope this helps, this is my process.
- Become aware of what you want to change
- Question where it comes from
So if your relationship is a little rocky and you would do anything to keep it together. Instead of blaming your partner, just once question, do I do anything to cause these arguments? Or your children are behaving in ways you do not like. It is time to be brutally honest with yourself. As much as we love our children for exactly who they are, we cannot help being one of the most important influences in who they become. Are memories from your past holding you back?
Give it a try, you have nothing to lose and believe me! Everything to gain! Let’s go through them one by one:
1. Become aware of what you want to change
Maybe you are mild mannered, softly spoken and speak and treat your partner with respect. Your child will grow up to be a man you can be proud of, you hope. What if the same boys Dad, had insecurities,that he is not clever enough and passes the pain onto his child by calling him stupid. You may not think a Dad would call his son that. I have met several people who have had the same issue.
It does not seem like a drastic life altering behaviour from the Dad, but the affects it has on a fragile mind that is being molded to understand his environment.Your child takes everything you say as the gospel truth. You are your children’s first teacher and they soak up all they can from you before they head out in the big bad world.
Can you imagine being called stupid for years as a child, every mistake, every mishap. You would grow up thinking you were dumb and lack so much self confidence. You would doubt your abilities to perform even the smallest task.
This is where you need to be brutally honest with yourself. Look at the way you behave and what you say, then put yourself in the other persons shoes. You can replace stupid for a variety of different things and have different but equally as damaging affects on a young mind.
2. Question where it comes from
This becomes easier the more you practice. When you notice something, a behaviour you do not like for example. You know deep down, you were not intentionally setting out to behave or speak the way you were. Now you need to figure out where it comes from. Start by questioning, did i pick it up from dad/mum? My Uncle/Aunt? Was it the time people called me this/that? only you can ask the questions just use an open mind, a good place to start is the person you do not think it could possibly be.
You will know when you figure out the memory, experience, repetition of a word or insult that is causing the problem. It will feel like being reminded, as if you knew it all along. If you get this far the hard work is over.
Acceptance is a vital part of the process, most of us treat our memories as if they never happened. Phrases like “I can not believe that happened to me! I can not believe after all i did for them! How did that happen? My personal favourite “How was i so stupid as to let that happen? These are all ways of you not accepting the situation. Why try to understand the actions of others?
What people say or do on you, is a reflection of how they feel in themselves. This was a life changing realisation when i came to it. I used to call my partner all the horrible names that i thought about myself and because i hurt so much i had to make others feel as bad as me. I hope this helps you with some of your memories. Now if somebody insults me or gossips etc. I have empathy for them, i know how it feels to be that angry with yourself and to blame everyone else for your bad mood.
So for the purpose of helping yourself and your children. I will ask you to try and think about the memories in a slightly different way. You know it happened! It is just time to chalk it down to experience instead of wanting closure or to know why it happened etc.
Last but by no means least. Some of this might be new to you but remember your doing this for your children. We live in a world where it is very hard for people to forgive others.
I think the biggest stumbling block is because most people think “I am not forgiving them, they do not deserve to be forgiven!” In most cases they are probably right, they have not shown remorse or no apology. That is their decision.
Forgiveness is not for the person who wronged you. It is for you, to finally get rid of that nagging thought, that memory that pops up when you are having a good day and turns your day on its head. Forgiving yourself for allowing what happened , for not standing up or talking up for yourself. The thing is, it is all in the past. No matter how long you spend thinking or reliving it, it will never change what happened.
Where your control and power is though, is in your ability to change the way you think about the situation. By changing your feelings towards the person, experience or yourself, gives you control over it. As if by magic it is gone. The memory goes, you never have to relive it again.
I can not explain how or why, that is not my concern all i know is it works and it is powerful, life changing and something i would highly recommend everyone to at least try it and give yourself a better life.
The best thing about the process is, it can be used at anytime. It only takes a few minutes and it is near instant. You will feel a sense of relief when you forgive and release it’s hold on you. Though about two days later is where you notice you are happier than normal for no reason. You feel a little more confident or self assured than usual. God knows we need people with different ideas who are confident and self assured within themselves. So what are you holding yourself back from doing? what are you unknowingly passing onto your children?
None of us could have predicted how our lives would turn out. At times I am sure your flaws held you back, your behaviour got you in trouble, your attitude made you miss an opportunity, your lack of belief and confidence stopped you from taking a chance, your fear held you back?
It is none of your fault, all those things happened and you gained the experience of them. Now that you know how it feels to think your less than adequate, how bad it hurts. Are you going to try and convince yourself you cannot do more to give your children the best possible start in life?
We are modern dads, we are preparing the next generation for the ups and downs of life. My kids will be growing up with strong belief in their own abilities, confidence oozing from them, belief in themselves, knowing how to treat others, love themselves and others, to be positive, to have drive, to know their worth, to be strong enough to trust their own personal instincts and many more.
This is my gift to my children, they helped save a lost soul so the least I can do is give them the very best parts of me and get rid of the bad bits. These things do not come from telling them to behave like this or that. These things are learned through watching our parents conduct themselves in daily life.
So the next time you punish your child for something, have an honest look and ask I wonder where he learned that from? The apple does not fall far from the tree.