The Sweet Sounds Of The Words "My Father"
By Donovan Grant
“Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad” – Proverb
Becoming a father is very much like work-life balance in many ways. Some days are great. Some days you feel like running away. And some days you just got to roll your sleeves up and do the work and ‘man up!’
Not many years ago you would find dad out all day doing ‘the heavy lifting’ and mum stayed at home and provided all the love and care that a good home and family needs. In many households mum and dad have now re-written the script. Both parents have realised that family life offers more options than what was available to grandma and grandpa. In some cases the roles have reversed, mum goes to work and dad stays at home. In other cases we can see an equal sharing of going to work, loving and caring for the family.
Jen and I stumbled across an old episode of Wife Swap UK and it grabbed our attention (my normal TV diet is less than 10 hours per week.) The guests on the programme were two middle-class families from outer London that had equally challenging lifestyles.
So what sort of things do dads do?
Family A had two sons and two daughters all teenagers at private school. Mum looked after the home as dad was working long days, five or six days a week so that they could keep up the school fees and other costs that a family that size has. Mum did the vast majority of the ‘housework’ and the teenagers were free to do as little as they wished. The family very seldom dined together as a unit. Dad was also quite a silent figure in the family; he was often stressed out and lacking in energy. In fact his role in the family was very much the ‘hunter and gatherer’ from a few generations ago and he seemed to be a functional person rather than a star in the family.
Family B had two sons aged 10 & 17 both at school. From what we could see their family values were based on having fun and everyone doing their bit to keep the house and the family unit in order. Mum and dad both worked. The boys were both excellent gymnasts and were drilled by dad to get up 5am everyday for practice as they often performed as part of a group and he wanted them to be perfect. Dad was pretty strict with the boys; he was also very close to them emotionally and openly showed affection and shared stories to inspire them to be the best they can be. This family dined together more often than not, especially weekends and dad was very active and came across as very much an inspirational to mum and the two boys.
By the end of the show, both families agreed to make small adjustments and for dads to be more balanced in their homes. Dad A was going to get more involved with the day-to-day family activities and Dad B was going to cut the kids some slack. Both mums were going to ‘help’ dads make the transition.
Every family has their own mission statement, whether it is written or whether it just evolves over time. What seems apparent from this story is that, the more active a role dad takes in the mission, the bigger a difference it will make to the family outcome. It is not simply a question of what’s the right way or the wrong way to grow a household. It is more a question of what is the vision of success that we have for our family.
Remember this- when we have children in our family, our role changes from a husband or a partner to a father, a protector, a guide, a teacher, a role model, a friend, a carer, a shoulder to cry on, sports coach …..the list goes on.
My fellow dads, I don’t pretend to be the perfect dad, because I have my fair share of down moments as well as up moments. What I do know for sure is that the time that we spend with our children now is a priceless investment into their future, the family’s future and the next generation. The father son and the father daughter relationships need to be individually nurtured.
After 21 years of being a father, I can honestly say that every day I learn something new and the best thing I have learned is that being a father is not about me! In fact I love the way that Martin Luther King said it “life’s most urgent question is what are you doing for others?”
Be the best dad that you can be; your family and the world needs you!
Ps. I invite you to inspire a dad today, by leaving a comment below.
I believe in you and I am grateful to you for allowing us to serve you each and everyday!
Donovan Grant is a "Honest and True Step By Step Work-life balance and Career Coach. His systems help the average career changer as well as high flier get extra-ordinary results quickly. www.donovangrant.com.