Being a parent is difficult enough but trying to bring them up is more so. In my experience anyway. SJ by default is not naturally a talkative child with me, nor anyone else for that matter. I don’t know whether it is because he finds it difficult to talk with me, or that I am just not interesting enough?
The same for me?
Growing up when I did was somewhat of a lonesome affair where the male role model was concerned. As I have said in previous posts, it wasn’t that it was difficult growing up, more there was no ‘dad’, as such. Not to the point that I could speak to them about anything that was bothering me. It was the case of ‘children should be seen and not heard’.
Dad was never really comfortable if approached by his kids for some advice….unless he had been drinking, then the floodgates were opened. His ‘displeasure’ at having to be a parent was obvious and it made him unapproachable. This sounds an awful thing to say but in reality, it was the way he was.
When dad was diagnosed with cancer, it progresses rapidly. In the many conversations that followed between mum and dad, he was apologetic to her through realising that he hadn’t been there for us. Not until my nephew and niece were born, did it strike him that he had missed out when his own kids were young.
After dad passed, and I was blessed with my own child, SJ, and I never wanted to be the type of dad that mine was. Not that dad was not important to me, he was; I wanted to be the dad that is always there.
We never really had the conversations you see sometimes on television. The stereotypical offering that Hollywood can sometimes bring us, was not the relationship we had. It was ‘ask your mum’ or ‘I don’t know’; dismissive comments to questions I had for him.
The important thing for me was to be the type of dad, role model, and friend that SJ would be proud of. For years before, I never had any confidence in myself and always felt that I was never good enough. I didn’t want the same for SJ. My thought process was for me to have the kind of relationship that would make him feel comfortable to discuss anything he wanted to with me, and his mum.
But the problem was that I didn’t know how to. Talking to others didn’t come easily to me and trying to breakdown the walls of a child who has suffered at the hands of parents, and the dissolve of the relationship must have affected them in a negative way.
The guilt of being a part of the relationship breakdown was tough. For all concerned. But for me, the empathy I had for SJ in trying to help him understand why it happened, was massive. The reassurance, the counselling, the love and the encouragement I gave, just didn’t feel enough. It never felt I was enough of a dad and had a constant struggle to prove to him that I cared, and I loved him.
The Thoughts of Others
Other people’s thoughts should not bother you. You are your own person, and what you decide to do is your responsibility. This is how I feel now. But more recently, I was aware that others had a worry regarding my relationship with SJ, and how I was always putting him first above my own life. Only now can I see this but I still stand steadfast in my opinion, that I thought I was doing the right thing.
I never wanted to be my dad in relation to my relationship with my child. I wanted to be the opposite. But I will always state that it easier when your children live with you to raise them than it is when they are not.
What I have tried to do is to be a father, friend, and mentor. This is what I will continue to do. The thinking behind my decisions is to keep it real, and not to sugarcoat any events that will happen – good and bad. I think that the best thing is to try and increase his self-esteem and allow him the ability to talk about whatever he wants to, whenever he needs to.
An example of this would be when his mum and I were arguing via text. Although not going into detail, the argument was pretty intense and so much so, that we are hardly on speaking terms due to the exchange of words we chose to damage each other with. Rightly or wrongly, I decided to show SJ the messages so they could make up their own mind on the disagreement. The thought process behind it was to give the opportunity to make his own mind up on what had been said.
This was not to allow sides to be taken, but to allow an informed judgement based on the responses from both parents. It seemed to work as they had opinions of me both good and bad. I apologised for the argument but explained that sometimes it is necessary for this to happen, in order to ‘clear’ the air.
But what does this mean? Is it wise to give your child the opportunity to make his own decision over what happens? For me, I explained that it wasn’t their fault whatsoever, but I felt it important that he understood. I suppose a similar situation arose when choosing his options for the GCSE’s.
The conversation we had was one of trust. Me trusting his judgement on what he wanted to do with his education. I explained the importance of having a broad range of opportunities that would be left open if he chose wisely. Explaining what I thought was right, they took it in his stride after some time away to think about what they could do with their lives after leaving school.
How they can be expected to know what they want to do is ludicrous. But, it is what it is!
The word confidence is so underestimated in my opinion. I was never given the opportunity to express my opinions but with SJ, I want him to have the option to be able to do so, without fear. Maybe the best option to help him, is to give the opportunity to be himself, and not be a manufactured object of our own desire?
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