A seasoned dad shares his thoughts on being in the present as he raises his young boys. It’s about being a coach, mentor, teacher, judge for your children.
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
I’ve struggled for years with the role I need to play in the life of my sons. My pursuit of personal development and career has been a driving force in our family for some time now. “There is no point in doing this if I can’t do it well!” I would proclaim in the heat of arguments about my perpetual “absences”. I do not mean that I was travelling for work, or that I skulked away to enjoy “Bro time!” with the lads at the pub. I was hard at work, studying, but apparently not engaged in the family. I had chosen a new career and committed substantial resources to a university program that was both time consuming and physically taxing. I was following my passion, but I was home too. I was there to HEAR the kids playing, there to SEE them grow, there to put them to bed and all the good and bad times that come with being a parent/student with two under 5 year old children.
I was home. Or was I?
I had convinced myself that being a parent was about just being present. “Congrats you’re here! Thanks for coming. Collect your children and many kudos on your way out.” If we learn nothing from dead-beat parents, it is that the mere bare bones basics of parent-hood is – showing up. Don’t get me wrong, showing up, being present IS a big step. I do not want to down play its’ significance. But if fatherhood was a ladder.
STEP 1: Sperm donation. STEP 2: Be present. STEP 3: ??? – This begs a question.
Now what do I do?
Being a Father should be more than a title. If you step out of the big picture a bit you will see that being a father is more than a noun. Fatherhood is a process, an action – a verb. It is not a medal given out at maternity wards. Being a father means doing the hard yards even when the man flu’s got you in a death grip. It means setting aside EGO and doing the self-reflection needed to be a better dad and better person. It’s about being a coach, mentor, teacher, judge – etc. Mostly it’s about sharing your life and time and helping make somebody that will truly change the world.
It sounds overwhelming!
Now I could put a number of inspirational quotes in here that tell you to “take small steps” and “The biggest tree comes from the littlest acorn”, Zen bullshit, but I don’t think it sends the right message.
“Just get off your ass!”
—Eric David – US Navy Seal
Eric’s website has been a great go-to for me in my parental learnings and while I am not or ever was a military elite, I am interested in human performance and training much like Eric, especially when it comes to being a better father and raising my kids.
So here is my plan of action. I am going to plan some time to spend with my kids. I am actually going to pencil it into my calendar. I want it to be different and a little challenging and these adventures are going to involve a few key elements.
1. Getting out of the comfort zone.
Kids and adults don’t spend enough time burning energy outside these days. My 8 year old can literally run for kilometres. I need to run wild a bit too. Let’s target some areas that are a little off the beaten track.
2. Learning new skills.
These don’t have to be huge life changing lessons where you bestow the wisdom of the ages. Literally things like tying a knot, organising to be safe around the water, etc. Think practical. Hell, it can be a skill you are trying to learn too.
3. Low cost.
You don’t need to go build houses in a third world country. I mean, you can if you want, it’s actually very noble, but maybe for this, start small and go from there. Invest your time.
4. Have Fun!
The most important part. Having fun creates the desire to repeat the experience.
Remember the point is to DO something active with your kids. So make a plan and go!
ryanholiday.net – Some of the best reading material I’ve found that discusses all sorts of topics that are relatable to developing oneself as better person and father. Newest book is called: Ego is the Enemy.
ericdavis215.com – A former Navy Seal sniper instructor. A huge advocate for being an engaged parent and developing yourself as a leader and example for your family. Newest book is called: Lessons Navy Seals learned from their training and taught to their sons. Raising Men.