Our team at Regional Men’s Health talk to a lot of blokes, the other important side to this is we also do a lot of listening. Comments that often come up, especially from men of the older generation is I wish I had spent more time with my kids, or I spent my life busting my guts working and missed out on a lot of the little things.
Life can sometimes be a double-edged sword and I personally have the utmost respect for men who saw their primary role as the breadwinner and gave precedence to their work, with the best interest of their family in mind. The downside to this, of course, was that these men were quite often too busy with work, or away from the family, to be able to commit time at home to do some of the little things that are now considered commonplace.
My partner did an amazing job giving birth to all three of our children at home (under the supervision of an experienced midwife) and I was actively encouraged to be involved through all stages of the pregnancy and birthing process. My experience, of course, is vastly different to that of men from my grandfather’s era, who were told by the midwife well you have done your job, we’ll let you know when we need you!
In modern society the family structure varies and there are no set rules on who does what. Women have historically been considered the carers and nurturers, but they may also have careers. The question I have is are we as open and accepting of men who show a nurturing and caring side as well as a commitment to his working and professional career? Is this balance possible?
Spending time with the kids is a priority for many blokes and I believe some of the most enjoyable and rewarding times comes from being in their company. Don’t get me wrong we will all have times when we’re challenged, tested (usually our patience) and sometimes even question our ability as a father, this is normal. In addition to this we need to be aware of and manage our work, spend time with our partner and make time to explore our own passions and interests (self-care).
A few tips for father and father/mentor ﬁgures out there:
Don’t be afraid of the everyday tasks when our child is born; changing nappies, bathing, feeding, they’re all important bonding opportunities;
As our kids grow get to know them and take an interest in their passions, interests, hopes, dreams and schooling;
Talk to our kids, ask them how their day was, tell them about our day;
Reading is one of the simplest beneficial things we can do with them;
There is a saying if we spent twice as much time and half the amount of money on our children we and they would be better off. Keep it simple, time and presence are the most precious gift.
To those men out there who may carry feelings of regret, guilt or loss about what they missed out on with their children, don’t forget that any guy can be a Dad, but it takes someone special to be a Father. Even if our children are now adults don’t forget every child, no matter what their age, seeks the approval of their father. Tell our kids today that we’re proud of them and we love them.
By The Regional Men’s Health Initiative