A Huffington article caught my eye just a few minutes ago:
Arsenio Hall On Falling In Love With Fatherhood
I kinda grew up with Arsenio Hall. I've watched the show, saw the movies, and, as you can surmise from the title of this post, listened to his CD. He's a very talented celebrity. It's a shame that I have to highlight those words in this day and age, but it seems to be a rarity among celebrities now - to actually have a talent.
I was relieved to know that he shares the same positive attitude that I have toward being a father. And that he feels true regret when his work-life draws him away from his son. ** caution: mild-crying in video link **.
So, what is the bigger picture? How did Arsenio and I end up with this "fatherhood gene"? Hopefully, this is a quality that many of you want to foster in your own relationships, so where does one start?
Being a dad is about sacrifice. There is that saying about "putting away childish things". That's a good start. You can't help with homework or make a well-balanced lunch if you're Ghost Reconning 16 hours a day.
Sacrifice in moderation. That's not to say you can't also indulge once in a while. Finding these personal balances is the challenge for the dad, the mom, and all the family members. Ghost Recon isn't the hit-game it is without good reason and golf club manufacturers need someone to sell their items to.
Patience. Sure, being a dad will cost you the coloring in your hair. But that's not really the patience I'm referring to here. It's about waiting for that male to REALIZE that he is ready for fatherhood. Some are thrust (ahem) into it and others evade it as long as they can. I always had a close connection with my own dad (the genetic and behavioral similarities were just too strong to ignore) - realizing that he was ready for fatherhood made my acceptance easier. Dragging someone into fatherhood when they clearly are not ready-willing-and-able may be doing more harm than good to everybody involved.
Support. If someone is afraid of being a father, that is, actually, a good sign. They recognize the responsibility of being a dad for this child. It means they are genuinely concerned about the welfare for this being. Now, the next step is to help them with those fears. Let them know they are not alone with this. Relatives immediate and distant can step in - in my case, family from hundreds of miles away came out of the woodwork to help with a newborn. Behold the power of baby. If relatives are in short supply, there are social programs to assist with childcare (google for Child Care and your state of residence for links and info). And, as each day passes, the fears will subside and confidence will grow - all the proof you need will be in the face of that kid.
Support in moderation. Just like the sacrifice. There are instances where the dad just WON'T be able to be there. This was Arsenio's situation and it is my situation. It's not by choice - not by a longshot. It's just the circumstances of work, or health, or something else. I've been pretty lucky to be able to provide for my family as I have, but that comes with the understanding of late-work-hours and being on-call during some weekends. We all want to be involved with raising our own but you also don't want to sacrifice your job-income in the process. Finding this balance that you are comfortable with is key. And if you see the need to improve your work-life balance, then pursue that and really WORK toward that.
I'm going to mention NPR radio once again - they have this piece called "Story Corps". Often it's two people just relaying their feelings. When it's a father and child, the majority of the time, the dad always wished to "be there more" for the child, but kids are REALLY APPRECIATIVE of the dad in spite of that.
In summary, we would all do well to adopt Chunky A's attitude toward being a dad.