Being a Daddy

Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes you have enjoyed APtly Said’s celebration of fathers this week. This final post wraps up this series on “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections,” June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives — you inspire us!

TejaI always wanted to be a Daddy…I just never knew how much it would change me.

Naturally, most parents think their child is beautiful, and even with a little mushed face and purple foot, I felt the same. I was especially proud of the fact that while my son laid under a heating lamp in the hospital, he looked more developed than the other babies.

I called the first year of parenthood the most rewarding “punishment” I ever went through. Not that I would have changed it for the world, but I believe most parents would understand what I mean.

Strangely enough, nature has a way of making us endure some form of amnesia. After two years and 10 months, I found myself being a glutton for “punishment” again. Sure, why not? I hardly remembered the endless sleepless nights from my previous go-around. Then again, my memories since first becoming a parent are a patchwork of fragments, mostly focused on the glee of being a parent.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but suddenly I learned a new fear I will never lose till I am gone — in that moment, I knew I would always wish for the best and fear the worst for this individual indefinitely.

Dad HayIt seems like in a flash, my world that I had grown up in was no longer predominantly focused on me. My focus was now this baby.

My mind raced with questions…

I was overjoyed to be a Daddy. I cried at the sight of him. But I wondered How do you immediately love someone or something that you have no history with?  and Should I feel guilty that here was this new creature that I loved, yet didn’t really communicate with beyond its needs? I wondered who he would be.

At the same time, I found myself watching every breath while he slept and I would peer into the crib if it seemed too silent. I was beyond gentle as if this new entity was in fact an ancient artifact as fragile as parchment.

Could I be a good Daddy?

Two months after his birth, I was making some sounds and he looked at me and smiled. In that moment of connection, my heart melted. But this did not stop my internal thoughts, nor my imagination thinking of hypotheticals. I wanted to be an affectionate Daddy, but was there such thing as too much affection? Should Mommy be more affectionate than Daddy? I decided to throw caution to the wind, as I felt that my child should grow up knowing he was deeply loved through action and not just words of affection.

There are parents who try to essentially have their children be what they did not become or be just like them. I believe that is confining. More and more, I find the true gift we can give our children growing up as a parent is to allow them to discover their own path and support their positive choices.

I’ve learned that I am not perfect and that I will make mistakes, but I am patient. I’m willing to learn as I go, as much as I hope my teaching sinks in. I know teaching isn’t just preaching, but that setting an example and following through with my word carries more impact. The greatest gifts I can give my 2 boys are love, guidance, affection, and my attentive time. The gift has been given both ways as I’ve gained a greater happiness with myself.

Despite all the trials or tribulations we endure, being a parent can be so fulfilling. The first step is accepting ourselves and loving ourselves as the imperfect individuals we are — share that with your children. In this way, we will not seek the material things in life to find happiness, as we already have it in our hearts.

Being a parent has made me so happy and whole. I have become more forgiving, more accepting, more insightful, and above all, more loving. In all of the things I’ve done and accomplished, my family is my greatest creation and treasure — it is the one I am most proud of.

Transformation of being a father

Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) continues with APtly Said’s celebration of fathers through the theme of “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections,” June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives — you inspire us!

Father Daughter HandSometimes I start thinking about the man I used to be before having kids, and I always get so amazed at how much I have changed during this short period of time.

Considering that I am 33 years old, being a father for 3 years means that I have much more non-father time of life experience. However, I can tell with certainty that these last 3 years have been the most transformative years of my life.

When my first son arrived to this world, I didn’t know much about fatherhood — just like most other fresh fathers. Fatherhood invited me to become aware of my own sensitivity — and I said yes to it. I jumped into this giant pool of uncertainties called fatherhood, and while I was swimming there, I got in touch with my own sensitivity.

I was observing my child’s needs and feelings, and I started responding to them — which allowed me to build a loving bond with my son. In the meantime, I was learning so much about myself and my own feelings. I stopped hiding them and started exploring them, listening to myself and getting to explore and know a whole new person.

It didn’t stop there!

I realized this transformation was also affecting my relationships with other people, mainly because I was finally seeing their feelings as well. I have grown to understand what empathy is and that completely changed how I relate to my partner, friends, family, and everybody around me.

A couple years later, my second son was born — just to remind me that love isn’t something you split, but something that gets multiplied. It’s a reminder that one of the things I love the most about being a father is how such small and young beings can teach you the most valuable lessons about life.

So, if you ask me what being a father means to me, I would say it’s jumping into a life experience that will transform you for the better — into a more sensible human being.

Thiago Queiroz, father of 2 boys and an API Leader for API Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, offers his support for parents with his YouTube videos about Attachment Parenting, including positive discipline, Nonviolent Communication, and fatherhood.

In this video, Thiago discusses temper tantrums and how parents help their children deal with strong emotions.

 

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/Adrian,Canada

How has being a dad changed me?

Editor’s note: Welcome to Attachment Parenting International‘s celebration of fathers! For this Father’s Day, APtly Said Assistant Editor Effie Morchi has put together a moving series of essays with the theme of “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections” for June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives — you inspire us! 

Brett BevellI come from a story, as we all do. Some of it is real, some imagined or interpreted, and part of it remains a mystery as well. Never did I imagine in examining my own story that I would so deeply relish the experience of being a dad.

My son Dylan was born 14 months ago, and though certainly there have been times that are challenging — including many sleepless nights — his presence in my life is the best thing ever to happen to me.

Why is this so?

In part, it is the depth of love I feel for him, whether he is acting cute, sleeping, or in need of a diaper change. The love is there and the same regardless, an infinite expression of the life force of love pouring through me. And a human heart cannot help but be changed when the love pouring through it is that grand. That love has softened me and made me more compassionate to others, including myself.

Beyond this new infinite wave of love, there is more to the profound and positive change of being a dad. I also feel more of a sense of purpose. As a writer, healer and artist, I have always been driven and tend to thrive on meeting goals, deadlines, seeing an accomplishment come into full bloom.

Father Son LightBut this is a different kind of purpose, a through line of presence that flows through me having nothing to do with a goal, and simply wanting a wonderful future for my child, hoping his dreams come to fruition — whether or not mine ever do.

Most importantly perhaps is a new definition of responsibility. I now feel responsible for the welfare of another human, which is quite daunting, yet also very fulfilling. I notice how it impacts him when I am in a challenged mood, as well as when I am happy and joyful.

This has heightened my own consciousness of taking responsibility for how my emotional state impacts others. I have always done that on some level, since as an energy healer, that is part of my life’s work. Yet, now even the smallest nuances of emotion are highlighted in my consciousness. I do my best to embrace all of who I am, and also be aware how my own emotional energy impacts my son.

I would never trade being a dad for anything.

The greatest gift of life that I have known so far is being a parent. And the amazing thing is that had anyone asked me before my son’s birth how I would feel about being a dad, I never would have imagined it would be this wonderful, including the challenges. It has made me a new human, one that is more aware, more alive — even when exhausted — and more open-hearted to the experiences of others.

I never noticed strollers and little ones that much before. Now, it is the first thing I notice when outside the home, as I am a member of this new and amazing club called father!

 

Photo Credit (2nd photo): FreeImages.com/Vivek Chugh 

You never stop growing up: An interview with Lisa Reagan of Kindred Media

FreeImages.com - agastechegEvery one of us is on a journey through life, and each of us is at a different point on that journey. Some are at the very beginning: expecting their first baby or in the midst of the newborn months. Others, like me, are somewhere in the middle. I have 3 children, the oldest who is 9 years old. I have gone through the newborn and toddler stages 3 times, and I am enjoying the calm of middle childhood. Still others have teenagers or grown children, grandchildren or even great-grandchildren.

Each parent is constantly learning and growing in their role. At any point in our parenting journeys, we can reflect back on our early days as mothers or fathers and glow in the knowledge of how much we have changed since that…first positive pregnancy test…or our oldest child’s birth…or a seemingly endless night of breastfeeding…or our struggle with learning how to do positive discipline…or the first day of school…or our daughter’s first basketball win using her new sneakers we got her online…or our son’s first crush…or our child’s high school graduation…or our daughter’s wedding…or our son’s first child, by the way if you are looking a car for a gift in any of this celebrations you can use this convenient car finder tool if you’re in a hurry.

Did you ever think, before becoming a parent, that you — personally — would change so much by having a child? Before I became a mother, I thought that the basic course of human development went something like this: You are born, you grow and learn, and then you are an adult — a fully developed, done-grown human being.

lisa reaganBut, as API Resource Advisory Council member Lisa Reagan — Executive Editor of Kindred Media and Community and cofounder of Families for Conscious Living — explains in this API interview, we are never done growing and learning. Just as babies and children aim to hit certain milestones in their development, so are parents reaching their own “developmental” milestones.

API: Becoming a parent can be so transformative. How many children do you have, Lisa?

LISA: I just have the one, and he’s 17 now. I was telling some of my friends who would understand what am I saying without any kind of cultural mommy judgment — people who understand attachment and know me — and I said, “You know what? I feel like, it’s over — in a good way, though. I kind of feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, that mommy phase is over, and I have a young man in front of me.'”

[Joseph Chilton] Pearce [author of Magical Child] says you know you’ve done your job when they walk away and don’t look back. And when he [my son] does that to me now as a teenager, I am thrilled. I am, like, great!

I know when you have little ones, it is hard to imagine that this moment will come, but I told some of my friends that, and they said, “You know, you went through your developmental milestones as a mother, too.” So I grew up as well.

API: What a good way to say it.

LISA: And they’re right. Because of following the attachment model, I got my needs met to mother him, and there is nothing hanging on now. I did it. I met my needs to be his mother, and I met his needs, and it’s a completed thing now.

It is kind of a dangerous thing to say in our judgmental culture where people want to bash the heck out of moms for any reason at all, like, “Oh, aren’t I a neurotic clingy mom, especially coming from an attachment background?” The opposite could not be more true.

In fact, as Robin Grille [author of Parenting for a Peaceful World and API teleseminar guest] has shared with me, the helicopter parenting phenomenon is the polar opposite of Attachment Parenting, (AP), which recognizes and respects the child’s developmental needs, not the parent’s need for control and dominance.

I recommend that parents who can’t believe their children are ever going to grow up and leave — and you’re going to be thrilled to watch them fly out of the nest — to read John Breeding’s book Leaving Home. He is dead on right. It is harder for us than it is for them, because their whole job is to grow up and leave, but there is a way for us to meet our own needs in this process because we are growing as well and we are developing. That was a revelation.

API: I love how you say that we, as parents, are growing as well, that we are hitting our own milestones. I think there are so many people — myself included at a point — that think that you grow and then basically you are fully developed, that you are done, and then you become a mother. Really for me and for a lot of AP parents, we figure out that there is a whole lot more to go. That realization is really profound.

LISA: I wasn’t thinking about any of this big picture stuff when I had a child. I wasn’t. I just wanted to be a mom. I loved my baby, and I loved my husband and I was so grateful that I got to delay having a child until I could stay home.

But I, like many parents, began to question and felt there was something not right about a culture that did not support family wellness — going back to what Pearce calls the “bio-cultural conflict,” meaning we are torn between our biological imperatives to make wellness choices for our children, and our cultural imperatives for approval and acceptance.

But when we have context for what is happening within us and around us, when we have some kind of historical context, cultural context, even our own personal context, it is the context — the Big Picture — that can help us to shake off despondency and move toward empowerment and joy. And early on, this is what I saw in myself, a new mother who was unaware that my conscious choices for connection — with myself, my child, my husband, my community and planet — mattered.

Peace coverRead the entire API interview with Lisa Reagan in The Attached Family‘s online “Nurturing Peace” issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*First photo courtesy of FreeImages.com/agastecheg

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