By Chris D’Souza –
Consider some challenges you may face as a dad today…
- Do you wish you could assume a bigger role in the upbringing of your children?
- Do you struggle with a hectic work schedule so that you hardly have time to bond with your kids?
- Do you generally find it difficult to accept and affirm your child?
- Ever wondered if you could integrate your faith with your parenting role and contribute to building up your child’s spiritual life?
- Are you trying hard to be a better role model to your children?
- Do you think you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to matters of discipline?
Feeling stumped? You’re not alone. These are very real challenges most dads encounter; more so in our culture, which has its own traditions, peculiarities and practices. Traditionally, for the most part, the dad has been the breadwinner and being out most of the day, it leaves him with fewer opportunities to relate with the children. Then of course there is the undisputed fact that that the mother is (and rightly so) instinctively the child’s first biological nurturer. But would these reasons be sufficient for dad to relegate himself to a sort of secondary status when it comes to parenting?
In a recent conversation with a group of friends, the topic of raising kids came up. One of the dads promptly announced that it was his wife’s duty to bring up the kids, teach them their lessons, prayers, etc. Of course, once in a way he checked with his kids about their studies. From thereon, the responsibility shifted onto the mother’s shoulders. Eventually it became obvious that the man came from a viewpoint wherein he assumed his only duty was to provide for the needs of his kids by laying money on the table and perhaps checking on them from time to time. This sets one thinking… Hasn’t dad anything to contribute in terms of bringing up the kids? Is it a matter of role stereotyping? Has parenting been perceived as a “ladies job?” Is it merely a cultural issue?
Fortunately, the tide seems to be changing for the better with the availability of abundant information on parenting, insights from contemporary research on the value of bonding with one’s kids and more opportunities to be home with the advent of virtual working styles. Many dads have realized that they need to bond more with their kids to be able to develop a stronger and more impactful relationship with them.
However, even when a dad does realize that his contribution to parenting could take on a much bigger and more relational (vs. positional) approach, he is often faced with several challenges. Some dads are driven by external factors such as the societal stereotypes discussed earlier. Others could be internal constraints such lack of knowledge or confidence in the ability to offer paternal support, care and direction. At times there is pressure to conform to society and its stereotypes. Maybe hectic work schedules pose a challenge in offering the much-needed support and encouragement that is vital to the psychological development of the child. Let’s be honest – most of us land up with this responsibility of fatherhood without a clear plan and almost no training.
These facts prompted us to bring together the experiences of a few dads who have faced these challenges. They chose to make a commitment to put in the investment of time and energy in their relationship with their children. More than that, they have exhibited the courage and openness to share both their successes as well as setbacks in their fatherhood journey. This is how the book ‘Good Fathers to Great Dads” was conceived. Our hope is that these experiences and insights will meet you at your point of need and help you trigger off your own thought processes to develop a parenting approach that is both relevant and customized to your own circumstances. The chapters unfold chronologically around the life of a dad beginning with his own parental family, the spousal bond, his parenting roles and attributes such as role-modelling, self-giving, affirmation, discipline and faith-formation. The reading is further enriched with chapters on a child’s perspective, a mother’s perspective and the spirituality of fatherhood. To personalize the reading, at the end of each chapter there are reflections as well as discussion and action points to help you get started on your own journey to fatherhood.
This book offers a basic framework for the parenting role of the dad and also provides insights drawn both from parenting psychology as well as practical experience to take the learning forward. It is ideally positioned at young dads as well as dads-to-be. It however taps into timeless principles and spiritual truths and our hope is that any dad at any phase of life could glean some insights from it. At the heart of the book is the underlying framework that contrasts the positional vs relational approach to parenting. This relational approach has been emphasized by most of our contemporary leadership gurus. It becomes even more crucial when it comes into the family setting. Pope John Paul II, in his collection of teachings on the ‘Theology of the Body’ points out that as human beings we are first of all profoundly relational and that we strive to attain perfection mainly through our relationships. We are called to develop intimate and enduring relationships patterned on the definitive relationship that Christ shares with us. And who can be better candidates to share those relationships than our family members, especially our children?
It is our hope that this book will plant the seed in the heart of a dad to embrace the responsibility of fatherhood and encourage him to lead his children with a balanced, holistic and godly perspective.
The book ‘Good Fathers to Great Dads’ by Chris D’Souza and Adrian Stevens was released by the Archbishop Bernard Moras on June 16th, 2016 in Bangalore. To order copies contact: email@example.com
ICM brings you excerpts from a chapter each month to encourage you on your own fatherhood journey!
Chris D’Souza is Director at Lead Strategic Development and he specializes in Talent Consulting, Leadership Training, Executive and Life Coaching. He lives in Bangalore with his wife Jennifer and son David. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org