Blog number two picks up from where we left off…talking dads, father figures, male mentors and more.

My old man Derek is a farmer from Broomehill. He was a shearer from 15 – 40 years old, and now spends his time traversing the Great Southern, cleaning seed and sorting crops for farmers. The relationship with a dad and his daughter is a tricky one, and well, we probably have a love/hate relationship at times. My dad will always be my dad, ain’t there truth to that. He will always be the man I ring if I need car help (or a quick cash loan!) or to chew the fat with, because despite coming from a big family in a small town, he is worldly and wise and always reliable with his advice.

 

My favourite fathering website, The Fathering Project, touches on the importance of a dad’s role with his daughter. Briefly summarised from their website, it tells us that daughters learn about how they should be treated from their dads. They learn:

      • confidence;
      • self-belief;
      • what to accept from a man in a relationship

If a dad tells their daughter that they love her for who she is, she will believe it.

 

In contrast, boys learn about how to use their body and how to manage emotions from their dads. A dad’s role is to:

      • show them it’s ok to have big feelings, to ask for help and to ask others for help;
      • Wrestling, sport and playing is good: it show boys how to think creatively and solve problems

A dad should be a role model on how have healthy relationships.

 

From a kid’s perspective, I guess we have to acknowledge that sometimes our dads stuff up. Sometimes they aren’t those role models we are so desperately craving, and big hurts come as a result of this…even when we’re grown up. That’s where we can seek out a new dad role model, or if we’re a man and notice a child needs a role model in their life, just be around to support them, chat to them, engage with them.

Dr. Bruce Robinson (The Fathering Project) tells a story of his daughter’s friend, who he always made sure he wrapped up in a big bearhug whenever they came to visit after high school, and made a big deal of her whenever she was around. After a while, he begun to wonder if his daughter’s friend welcomed this, or actually found it uncomfortable. So he asked her daughter and she said, “Are you kidding?! When we turn the street to come home, Holly* always lets out a big scream and says, ‘I just can’t wait to get a hug from your Dad today!!'” Never underestimate the power you dads (and dad-figures) have!

 

If you’re at a loss at how to connect with your kids, I offer the following suggestions:

Play:

  • Set up a home campsite – Make camp in your backyard and pretend you are camping in the bush (or actually go camping..)
  • Wash the car – Clean your car with the kids and enjoy natural play with water
  • Make a movie – Write a script together. Assign the characters to each member of the family, then dress up and film the scenes in your house or yard.
  • Create a comic – Write the story, draw the characters, and turn it into your own comic strip.

Talk:

  • When you speak to your children, use encouraging words and don’t put them down for their thoughts and actions.
  • Avoid asking questions that only get a “yes” or “no” response. Instead, use “who, what, when, where, why”
    • What should we make for dinner tonight? How do you think we make that?
    • When you said you felt angry before, what did you mean?
    • Why do you think…?
  • Use your knowledge to help your daughter work out her own plans. This will encourage her to take calculated risks and make decisions.
  • Model good language. Use “I” if you’re feeling annoyed, frustrated, upset, sad with your wife or significant other. “I” communicates true feelings; “you” puts the blame onto someone else. Your children will notice this and readjust the way they talk.
    • Do not say: “You always do this; you’re always doing that” (about a negative experience)
    • Say: “I feel …… (angry, sad, frustrated, powerless) when this (what the experience is) happens”

Actions:

  • Listen. Let your child say what’s on their mind. Only offer advice if they ask for it (easier said than done!)
  • Cuddle. Children are never too old to be hugged.
  • Reach out: Your male friends are your lifeline. Seek them out, join a men’s group, or check out parenting forums online.

Dads: You are essential, valued and validated. Parenting support is out there for you, books are available and men’s groups exist here in Bunbury. For additional support, check out:

The Fathering Project: https://thefatheringproject.org/

Mentoring Men: https://mentoringmen.org.au/

Good Blokes Co.: https://www.goodblokes.co/

Smiling Fox: https://www.smilingfox.com.au

Life Lessons Global: https://lifelessonsglobal.com/

Youthcare: https://www.youthcare.org.au/

Till next time,

Kodie