Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

She Doesn’t Really Love Me!?! Or Check Out Your Attachment Style

 

hand holdingRecently I came across the book “Attached” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, as well as articles about the topic of how attachment styles influence our relationships. Having been interested in Attachment Theory since my first baby was born, I was intrigued about how my wife and I can use attachment theories wisdoms on our couple relationship.

Attachment theory was first developed by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby, who observed children’s reactions to being separated from their parents during WW2 in England. He realised that how children related to others was directly influenced by their experiences with their primary caregivers.

birdiesI wrote before about how essential our first bonding experiences to our caregivers are and that when our needs are not met at all or not all the time, we can end up longing for this sense of security and feeling of being loved unconditionally as adults . And this often influences how we are relating to our partners. In other words, the fears and needs of our childhood travel with us into adulthood and we re-enact certain situations and struggle with connecting to our partner out of fear of abandonment or rejection.

If we can’t be sure of being loved for who we are (and even if our actions aren’t always perfect), we might decide to hide our true emotions, close our heart and use communication to hide the truth of the matter.

Several researchers have looked into how our attachment styles influence our relationships. There are four styles. In their research, Dr. Phillip Shaver and Dr. Cindy Hazan found that about 60 percent of people have a secure attachment, while 20 percent have an avoidant attachment, and 20 percent have an anxious attachment.

  • SECURE people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving
  • ANXIOUS people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back
  • AVOIDANT people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
  • FEARFUL/ AVOIDANT people live in an ambivalent state, in which they are afraid of being both too close to or too distant from others. They attempt to keep their feelings at bay but are unable to.

By being aware of your own attachment style (and that of your partner) you will be able to “see through” your own thought patterns (“he always does X that means he doesn’t really love me” or “she goes on and on about my flaws, I just can’t take it anymore”) and begin to address your emotions differently, by relating them back to your attachment style. What you have taken as “reality” or “truth” might suddenly be turned around.

So, for example if you have an avoidant attachment style, you might repress emotions, be distant, withdraw in conflicts and find it difficult to tolerate true closeness. The way to get your needs met is to act like you don’t have any. You might communicate in a way that frequently pushes your partner away from you in order to regain your sense of distance. Now, it might be that your partner has an anxious attachment style their buttons will be pressed painfully by your behaviour. They will want you to respond to their communication and can’t deal with your withdrawal. Lisa Firestone writes that your partner wants to be with you lots to feel reassured of your love as well as have their needs met.

Knowing your own and your partner’s attachment style can help with exposing the Disconnection Cycle that you might find yourselves in and moving towards healing past experiences and forming a secure bond.

It is interesting when we consider that research has also shown that we often choose partners based on the same character traits as our parents (or one of our parents). In their book, Levine and Heller write that “attachment styles actually complement one another in a way. Each reaffirms the other’s beliefs about themselves and about relationships. The avoidants’ defensive self-perception that they are strong and independent is confirmed, as is the belief that others want to pull them into more closeness than they are comfortable with. The anxious types find that their perception of wanting more intimacy than their partner can provide is confirmed, as is their anticipation of ultimately being let down by significant others. So, in a way, each style is drawn to reenact a familiar script over and over again.”

I believe, and have experienced, that it is possible to start being more secure in your relationships. It takes a lot of reflection and putting old thought patterns on the head, but it’s so worth it! My wife and I are doing everything to ensure our children are securely attached to us, we feel that in order to achieve that we had to look at our own attachment styles, our childhoods and what kind of thought patterns we had about each other. It’s funny to think that really all our partner wants is to be held in that secure bubble that we hold our children in.

If you haven’t already recognised yourself/your attachment style, here is a test to find out!

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Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

Discovering Yourself as a Father of Twins

Every time when my wife and I found out that we’re pregnant, I thought about hundreds of different things. Things like: Are we gonna be alright? Am I ready for it? How will the older child respond to the news? How will life change? And so on. But to be quite honest, I never thought about the possibility, that actually two little babies could come into our life. I personally know very few families with twins and somehow it didn’t occur to me that twins could happen to us.

That’s why I find it very fascinating to shed more light on parents, and especially fathers, of twins. I’m glad to introduce you to Joe Rawlinson, who is a father of twins, an author and he also runs the website dadsguidetotwins.com (with awesome podcasts!).

So, sit back and enjoy reading Joe’s story:

Discovering Yourself as a Father of Twins

joe 1It was supposed to be just a normal visit to the doctor. We had found out that my wife was pregnant. This would be our third child.

As was protocol after a positive pregnancy test, my wife scheduled a visit with her doctor. I had gone with her before to these visits for each of our previous pregnancies.

This time is was Christmas Eve and we had two very active toddler boys. I offered to watch the boys while my wife went to her doctor visit.

I drove around in the van with our sons while my wife met with the doctor.

She called me when she was done to let me know the appointment went well. She shared the good news that they had actually done an ultrasound and saw healthy heartbeats.

I was excited that the visit went well but then paused and asked: “Did you say heartbeats? Plural?”

“Yes, we’re having twins!” was her immediate reply.

The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I was shocked. I was in disbelief. I couldn’t process this information. It was so unexpected that I couldn’t fathom it in the realm of possibilities.

I told her I was on my way and hung up the phone.

That night I had a hard time sleeping. My wife did too. The news of twins isn’t something that is conducive to a good night’s rest.

It took a while for the shock to wear off. The mental shock also lead to physical ailments like insomnia, and loss of appetite.

To help recover from the shock and actually do something about our pending twin arrival, my wife and I focused on what we could control.

We started making preparations around the home. We started recruiting others to come and help once the twins arrived.

Little by little we got ready. It is amazing how much comfort you can take in being prepared.

As an Eagle Scout I clearly remember the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. And so it was with us. We got as much ready as we could.

The twin pregnancy was more challenging than that of our two previous deliveries. My wife was on modified bed rest towards the later stages of the pregnancy. This required that we get creative with our daily schedules.

I adjusted my work schedule. We recruited a babysitter to come help with our two boys so Mom could rest.

Little did I know that the challenges of the end of the pregnancy were really practice for the work that was ahead of us.

Frankly, each of our boy’s infant months and required care were relatively easy on me as the Dad.

Yes, I helped the best I could during the day and night. However, since my wife was breastfeeding, my ability to help during the night was limited.

That pattern of parenting all changed with the birth of our identical twin girls. With twins, it is all hands on deck. No one rests. Everyone (at least all the adults) turn into sleep-deprived zombies.

As most twins do, our girls arrived early. 40 weeks is full term for a singleton baby but twins rarely go that far. At 36 weeks our baby girls arrived via a c-section.

We were blessed that our girls were born healthy and didn’t require any time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This meant that Mom and our babies came home from the hospital and we were off on our twin journey.

The first year with twins can only be compared to a foggy hazy blur. Sleep deprivation hung over us like a persistent cloudy day.

I took joy in the little moments with my girls. Often these were one on one during the nighttime feedings.

However, the physical and mental burden of caring for infant twins and still working a day job combined to wear me down.

Good friends of our told us that the first year was crazy. They told us it would be harder than we could imagine.

They were right.

joe 2Despite the intensity of the first several months, we made progress with each passing week with our twins.

They sleep for longer stretches during the night. We figured out their quirks. We learned what worked and abandoned what didn’t.

By the end of the first year, we were in a pretty good pattern.

Looking back on our experience, I realized that there just wasn’t a lot of good information out there for fathers of twins.

So I started to chronicle what I had learned on dadsguidetotwins.com and ultimately wrote a book, the “Dad’s Guide to Twins”, for dads to help them survive the twin pregnancy and prepare for their twins.

Our girls are 6 now and we have moved past the mere survival mode of infant twins. Now, we really have to do our best as parents. Instead of just worrying about feedings, diapers, and sleep, we really have to focus on raising good kids.

As our twins get older, the challenges are different. But there is still great joy in the journey of being a father of twins. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

 

About Joe Rawlinson:

Joe Rawlinson is the author of the “Dad’s Guide to Twins” and shares tips and tricks for having and raising twins via his dadsguidetotwins.com site and podcast. He also recently founded the Twin T-Shirt Company.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships, Society

Celebrating Co-Parents: The Importance of Secondary Care Givers in Attached Families

Today I would like to introduce you to a great writer, Amazon bestselling author and mama: JL Morse

In all her writing JL Morse is focusing on Natural Parenting, Alternative Education and Attached Families. Very recently she published her new book ‘The World of Wickham Mossrite’ (which I can highly recommend to you) – but more on that later.

Now I want you to get you a nice cuppa or a mug of coffee and enjoy reading JL’s guest post about working together in a family and how we can and should support each other. Because this way life is so much easier and so much more fun!

Celebrating Co-Parents: The Importance of Secondary Care Givers in Attached Families (by JL Morse)

I never wanted children.

I never wanted to get married. No big white dress.
JLM1

All that stuff you’re supposed to dream about. I wasn’t all that bothered about settling down, about having a family, although I did always want a dog.

One of these in particular… JLM2

Here I am at thirty-two, and two out of three ain’t bad – and it’s the unexpected treasures that have been oh so sublime. I’m still waiting for my perfect pooch (husband says yes, when the kids are old enough to pick up poop other than their own), but I’ve gone about as domesticated as Martha Stewart, minus the jail time.

Why the 180? Why the strong, solitary stance in the first place?

Because, coming from an only-child plus single-parent background and knowing how damn hard it can be at times, I just didn’t want that for my babies. And I didn’t think that any man (or woman, I’m all for gender equality after all) could or would put up with me for any significant amount of time. At least the amount of time it would take to make and raise a family.

So, long before I even hit puberty, I sort of wrote it off ever happening.

I’m not saying I had a tortured, fractured childhood. Those sorts of posts are for another blog than mine. I’m all silver linings and happy little clouds over here (fan’s of Bob Ross will know what I mean).

Whatever our circumstances, I did know I was deeply loved – which ultimately, is the best parenting advice I could ever give anyone.

JLM4I do remember however, the strong, determined message to learn to support myself. To not rely on anyone else, to get a good education, to get a good job, to never truly be dependent on anyone, especially financially. This was the eighties and nineties, after all. Sisters were doing it for themselves and all that. Girl Power.

So, I did it. And it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be if I’m honest.

And then, life changed.

 

 

JLM5Friends from my old pre-child life can’t still believe how extensively I’ve gone full earth mother. Not just one, but three children in less time than it takes to renew your passport (ish). We haven’t gone down the nursery or childminder route, as I have zero intention of going back to my previous career. I am a properly 1950s housewife, with the pinny to prove it.

I consider myself to be a Attachment Parent. I babywear, bedshare, nursed on demand, practice gentle parenting (no crying-it or timing-it out for us), and am very needs-driven. As in, what is my child trying to communicate and how can I meet that need? We as a family have adopted Non-Violent-Communication, which is all about engaging at a ‘needs’ level – how our words and actions shape and serve our needs for respect, love, support etc, and how we can interpret others’ communications as desire for their needs to be met.

If your toddler is whining, they likely need a drink, a cuddle or a sleep. Usually all three.

Thing is, throughout my friendships with other families, I’ve noticed a concerning trend – not in any way limited to AP, but perhaps JLM6magnified by it as its such a responsive way to communicate with our babies – and that is mothers (in the main) who are admirably giving everything they have to meet the many and significant needs of their babies, and totally neglecting their own needs, let alone that of the significant others in their life.

Dad, this often means you. Sorry.

Women who are so desperately trying to do everything right by their child, that they forget the people that helped make them in the first place. “I’m responsible for their needs, Daddy can sort himself out.” Mothers who feel like they just don’t have anything else to give.

Small people who cannot meet their own, very immediate needs, of course must come first. I wouldn’t dream of making my husband a cup of tea before feeding a newborn. My four year old can get a snack for herself whilst I help two year old totally miss the potty for the eighth time in a row. Sometimes the two year old will fetch Daddy a new loo roll when four year old has used it all for her copious crafting…

But that’s the thing – we’re a family. We all work together. That’s one of the beautiful things about sharing our lives, is we help each other out. And whilst never for a second trying to put another task on anyone’s heavy, sleep-deprived shoulders – through the glorious haze of motherhood, I would from my experience ask you one thing:

Don’t forget Dad. If he’s whining, he probably needs a cuddle too. From you and the baby.

Or perhaps it’s Auntie Jo, or Cousin Freddie – or whoever it is that is there to support you. However well they manage to do it, however frequently, however little they can truly understand what it’s like to not have showered possett out of your hair for the past three days. Even if whoever you do have on hand is really freekin’ annoying at times (Grandma, I’m talking directly to you) – they are there for you.

Let them help. And if you can, help them back.

The way they might offer help, especially as a new mother (and especially if you are breaking from mainstream, or the way you yourself were parented), will may feel totally inadequate, or worse, undermining. Baby wants you and no-one else. Or you’ve been battling for hours and baby settles instantly for smug Daddy. Toddler crying? Only Mama’s arms will do. Picking new outfits, reading together, bathtime, bedtime – such precious fleeting moments you want to cling to despite the delirium. Why give the good bits away?

But these secondary care-givers want to be part of baby’s life too – they want to be part of your life. They are trying to help. Even if sometimes you have to write explicit instructions, in blood, three times over.

Let them.

JLM8Let Dad be the one to do bathtime. Encourage him to get in on the sling action (he might get more addicted than you at churning stash). And especially when babies turn into toddlers, Dad’s are great at playing, at reading, even just being the one who gets to have a cuddle when its quiet time. The more you let them in, the more they can support you. The closer they’ll be to your children, and therefore to this brave new world of motherhood you’ve entered. The closer you’ll be as a family.

Same goes for Granny. Sure, there are times when you just can’t face your mother telling you how it was done in her day – but there are days when all you want to do is sleep. Grannies are good for enabling you to do that, even if its only ten minutes.

Modern life and certain parenting techniques (and especially schooling in my humble opinion) is geared up to teach children to be independent at as young an age as possible. I don’t want to teach my children to be independent.

I want my daughters to know there are good, reliable men in the world – just like their daddy. That they can zig-a-zig-ahh it if they want to, perhaps if they need to, but not because that’s just the way it is. It doesn’t have to be by default. I want to teach my son to be a good father (if his life blesses him in that way) – and yes, he plays with dollies too. I want him to know how to change nappies, to cook and clean, to be compassionate and giving.

I want them to have all the joy they have given me, as part of a unit. A team.

I want to teach them self-reliance and resilience, but that relationships are crucial to our happiness in life. That its not a cruel and solitary world out there. That if you cry out in the night, someone will always come to be there for you.

And secondary care givers offer more than support to you. They offer different perspectives on the world to your children. They let them know there is a network of people out there that love them, and that they can rely on.

JLM9For me, the principles of Attachment and Gentle Parenting therefore need to be reinforced with a big giant caveat…

It’s Attachment Families – not just parents.You can do it all alone, Beyonce. Sure. But you don’t have to (In fact, I’m pretty such Beyonce has a pretty large entourage for such an Independent Woman).

Motherhood is not an exclusive invitation-only party. You can have a plus-one. If you’re lucky, two or three or four. They say it takes a tribe to raise a child. Find, and then celebrate your tribe. Even if its a hotchpotch collection of vagabonds and vagrants other than your immediate family. There are literally millions of people in the same situation as you.

As they say, there’s one born every minute. Each of those babies comes with a potential support network for you too, life’s about letting people in. For every one of the people in your life that can’t (or doesn’t) offer the support you need, there are others out there looking for someone like you too.

We are all in this together. I’ve learnt that now.

JLM11I still don’t believe that a perfect family has to be a 2.4 – perhaps less so now that I actually have that. For me, it was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. Actually wanting the life you’re supposed to have after spending so many years renouncing it. I met someone that I actually wanted to rely on.

I’m expecting our third child in four years, have the most wonderful older step children (times another three – so I’ve gone from just me growing up to having my very own Brady Bunch), and a husband that is in every way is my Mr Perfect.

Honestly. I lucked out.

But what about those that don’t strike so lucky long term? My buddhist inclinations remind me that every rainbow has its storm – every joy is amplified by its sorrow. The one permanent thing about life is change, and therefore gratitude with the blessings of the moment is the surest way to hold onto them. How would things be if they were different? What would I do if our circumstances changed? How much would it matter if he (I) hadn’t done the dishes if one day there were less dishes being used?

My life could be very different. So I cherish it whilst I can.

JLM12There are times when you flat out want to punch someone in the face for Just. Not. Getting. It. But there are times when you have that little something to give, that extra kiss in the morning, the appreciation of the hard day they’ve had. It’s not always about you, even when they scream at you that it is.

This is not designed to be a post about single parenting – we all take our hats off to every man and woman out there fighting their solo corner. Things happen beyond our control, life turns in mysterious ways; perhaps there is always a plan? I now celebrate the mountains in my life because the view now is so stunning – and I’m better at navigating potholes. I would never have the exact children I have now, or be the parent I am to them, without every single experience along the way.

One day I might yet walk in their shoes, and I know that I would be ok (thanks Mum).

What this post is about, is remembering and celebrating the partners we do have in life – whether romantically, in parenting, in extended or blended families, or just a neighbour that you know always has that cup of sugar for you. Its about Attachment Families.

And as those Blues Brothers told us back in 1980, “everybody, needs somebody.”

And in my case, my Mr Perfect – I need you.

 


 

Thank you, JL Morse! 
In our families we need each others support and help. We live together, we learn together and we enjoy life together. We feel connected, nurtured and loved. That’s the true meaning of attachment parenting to me. ‘It needs a tribe to raise a child. Find your tribe.’ So true!

 

JLMJL Morse is an Amazon Bestselling Author, focusing on Natural Parenting, Alternative Education and Attached Families. She is a mother of two (nearly three), and lives on the South Coast of England in her big hippy bubble. Her latest novel, The World of Wickham Mossrite, follows a family a little bit like hers.

You can find out more at www.jlmorse.com or her publishers, www.onetreefamily.com.

Here more about her latest book:

Wickham Mossrite is a reluctant hero for the Natural Parenting generation. A gentle-giant nature boy, raised consciously and living compassionately in an alternative lifestyle. Encounter his thirst for knowledge about who, and why, and what the world is, and how he is to take his place in it. His ever-loving Meema and Papa, and their plans of Great Escape, his strident older sister Miss Salt, expectations of a younger sibling Bubba Boo, and best friend Hes; a girl struggling with her own identity in a world of labels and conformity. As W.C. Fields said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” Wickham is a boy who stands tall where it counts. Wickham has a refreshing take on life, seeing the connectedness in all things, their beauty and their fragility. These are the stories of his discoveries, his homeschool adventures and touching relationships. His observations of the way the world turns are refreshing and inspiring in turn. For a FREE book trailer – see –> http://bit.ly/1vz1Biy

 

Creative Stuff, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships, Society

Your Home in Chaos? Time to Declutter!

MessUsually once a month I get it: the declutter-my-life-and-environment-virus. Don’t worry, normally it’s not contagious. It’s like a good fever: high and short. In the way my body tells me to get rid of things in order to feel better. And often the kids’ bedroom is my target. My wife and children don’t mind, as long as they don’t have to help me in my mission.

The cleaning out or let’s say – the healing process – involves: picking up all sorts of things and elements (blu tack, bits of sellotape, string, pens, books, food) from the floor; sorting the books (I think my boys own more books than me and the local library put together); dividing broken, half-broken and playable toys (yes, that’s where my eldest starts to argue: That toy is not broken, it just had an accident!); and to make the room generally more accessible (at least for the coming hour).

I find this cleaning out helps my inner peace and balance. Yes, it has something zen  (please tell me if you’re Buddhist and I’m wrong). And it reminds me of the simplicity of life. When I go through all this stuff, I often think: hey, we need so little, but have so much.

Leo Babauta, author of the Zen Habits Blog, brings it to the point when he says: “And when I’ve gotten rid of clutter, I’m freed. I can forget about those things, and live instead in this moment. … Decluttering can be a beautiful process of helping ourselves let go of the things we don’t realize we’re holding on to.”

I don’t think my children are overloaded with toys. We really try to keep it balanced and spend a great deal outdoors in the woods or by the sea. Every time we run over fields or collect millions of stones at the beach (to make the stones and pebbles collection we already have at home just a tiny bit richer), I pause and think: yes, that’s also what parenting is about: to see and to appreciate those little things; to enjoy that very moment and to take it home.

 

Don’t get me wrong: this is not a post saying how bad toys are. No, not at all. It’s fine for me, after spending so much time outdoors, to come back and get the train set out and play. It’s good fun and I love playing with many toys my children own (did I really say that?). At the same time I want to keep that thought of a free, running-through-the-woods, awesome childhood. Because that’s what I did when I was little. So, my children deserve the same, at least!

Did you get infected now? Sorry. Should have warned you earlier.
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Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

Equal Parenting = Happy Parenting

familyI think to achieve a harmonious home life both partners need to be involved and active in parenting. But the truth is, that in most families either both parents work full time or one does while the other stays at home with the kids. I believe this is not a healthy situation in the long term. Even though both might love what they do, they get too much of one world and not enough of the other.

Yes, it’s a privilege and wonderful being able to spend the days with the kids as well as going out to work (as long as you like what you’re doing). But I find humans are not made for JUST one or the other. There are so many passions, wishes, dreams inside us. So many different things we can and want to do, that just choosing one path makes most of us dissatisfied.

When I am at home with the kids I love playing with them, have the freedom of spending my day as I wish, and they wish, do crafty, outdoorsy things together and have fun. BUT as soon as I do it for the third day in a row I catch myself wishing I had some more time for myself, pursuing things that are difficult to do with the kids in tow. Or just having some space for myself (hey, go to the toilet without being disrupted)!

But equally, when I spend days at work, I love being able to get things done uninterrupted, to be challenged intellectually and spend time with adults. BUT after a few days I miss being with the kids.

It’s a lose-lose situation for both partners. I think many parents want to escape these static roles and realise that we just don’t fit in only one role.

So how can you organise life in a way that you get the good of both worlds without having to move into a caravan and live in the woods? (Although that might actually be a great adventure!)

I think first of all it’s good to reflect on what you need and want. You only have this one life (yes, really! Well, reincarnation might exist, but who knows you might be an ant in your next life…). So, what is it that you need to do, that you have to do? What did you love to do when you were 9 years old?

Once, you have an idea, make sure you include that in your life! Make time, work less, share responsibilities equally. There are many different models out there, finding the right one is not easy, but definitely do-able. It takes courage and it’s scary to go for change, but it’s worth it, always. Only when you are happy in yourself and content with your life, can you also fully be present with your partner and your children, and this is the most important “thing”, don’t you think?

Tell me what you think and whether you have come up with ideas of how to parent more equally!

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Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

100 Ways To Be A Better Father

I love reaching out to other fathers/parents! Back in May I discovered Derek Markham’s blog NaturalPapa.com and I re-posted his great article about how to be a better husband.

I find Derek’s blog very inspirational and I love his writing. He talks about attachment, natural parenting, co-sleeping, natural living and so much more. Please visit his site and enjoy reading his awesome stuff!

Today I would like to share his post about 100 Ways to Be a Better Father. I agree with most of the points Derek has made. But when he talks about praise, I see that issue in a different way and refer to Alfie Kohn’s work on ‘Unconditional Parenting’. Have a read yourself and enjoy!

Fatherhood: 100 Ways to be a Better Father

100Fatherhood is a tricky proposition. We all want to be great dads, but chances are, our fathers never sat down with us and taught us how to be one.

And we don’t necessarily want to be our fathers. I mean, we want to emulate their positive influence on us, but we also want to do it our own way. And because children tend to spend more of their time with their mother, not being the greatest dad ever isn’t as obvious. No matter who we are, though, we can always improve our relationship with our kids and our spouse, and we can redefine the meaning of fatherhood each and every day.

There’s not as big of a movement toward better ‘fathering’ as there is toward better mothering. No big fancy fatherhood magazines, no Oprah for dads, no real exchange of fatherhood improvement programs. There’s just Natural Papa. (I’m kidding. There’s a bunch of great dad blogs out there.)

I’m a crappy dad sometimes, yet I hope that I’m always learning how to be a better father, so I felt moved to put some of my thoughts on fatherhood down in words to share with you.

I read a post called ‘Tackle Any Issue With a List of 100′, by Luciano Passuello, a couple of weeks ago, and then later I came across ’100 Ways To Live A Better Life, by Dragos, which was inspired by ’100 Ways to Be a Better Leader’, by Mike King, which was inspired by ’100 Ways To Show Boldness’, by Armen, which was originally inspired by…  You guessed it, Luciano’s post about lists of 100. Whew. Got that straight?

Anyway, after reading those, I thought I would format my ideas on fatherhood into my own list of 100. If you have something to add, I’d love a comment about it.

100 Ways to be a Better Father

  1. Be present with your children.
  2. Heap lavish amounts of praise on your kids.
  3. Focus on the positive when speaking to your children.
  4. Say I love you. A lot.
  5. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions to your family.
  6. Work on improving your relationship with your wife or partner.
  7. Take time out from work for family time.
  8. Laugh at yourself. All the time.
  9. Listen to your kids with all of your attention.
  10. Learn new things by teaching your children about them.
  11. Start a personal journal.
  12. Hold your kids accountable for their actions and words, but don’t use punishment to teach..
  13. Leave your watch and daytimer on your desk sometimes.
  14. Make a meal for your family.
  15. Do something wacky and unpredictable in front of your kids.
  16. Spend some time one-on-one with your child.
  17. Get moving. Have a fitness plan in place and get your kids to join in.
  18. Take more walks, and leave the car at home.
  19. Fall in love with your wife. Again.
  20. Admit you’re wrong when you are.
  21. Forgive your dad for any grudges you hold against him.
  22. Teach a new dad what you’ve learned so far.
  23. Take time for yourself, so you can bring that sense of fulfillment with you to the family.
  24. Remember what you hated to hear from your parents as a kid and vow to be different.
  25. Read out loud to your children.
  26. Leave your work issues at your job. Don’t dump on your kids because your day was bad.
  27. Drop your change in a jar each day. When full, open a savings account for your child.
  28. Once in a while, ask your kids what you can do better. Then do it better.
  29. Hugs and kisses are golden. Be generous.
  30. Let your kids make their own choices.
  31. Get out in nature with the family.
  32. Count to 10 before you react to your children’s actions.
  33. Remember that kids mirror our actions, so watch what you say to or around them.
  34. Parenting is a shared responsibility. Jump in and do something mom normally does.
  35. Learn from your elders – ask them what they’ve learned as fathers.
  36. When a child does something not so nice, separate their actions from them in your mind. A child is never bad, even though their actions may be.
  37. The next time you feel like giving up on something, do it anyway and use it as a teaching moment.
  38. Remember that everyone is somebody’s child.
  39. Listen to yourself. Do you sound like your dad? Is that a good thing?
  40. Give yourself a break. I haven’t met a father yet who doesn’t make mistakes.
  41. Unplug the TV and pretend it’s broken once in a while. Or hide it.
  42. Go with your child to school once in a while. Meet the teacher and ask how you can help.
  43. Make your health and fitness a priority so you’ll be around for your kids for a long time.
  44. Teach the value of service to others by volunteering in your neighborhood, church, or school.
  45. Write love notes and leave them for your kids to find.
  46. Read a book about fatherhood.
  47. Write a book about fatherhood.
  48. Make some snacks for the kids as a surprise.
  49. Speak as one with your wife, so your kids don’t play you off on one another.
  50. Do you say yes all the time? Use no when you mean it, even if they don’t like it.
  51. Do you say no all the time? Say yes once in a while.
  52. Snuggle with your kids.
  53. Show your wife respect always. Make sure your kids do also.
  54. Take the time to really explain things to your children. Don’t just say “because I said so.”
  55. Ask for help if you need it. Don’t suffer from excess pride.
  56. Accept who you are, but don’t settle. Strive to improve yourself every day.
  57. Smile at your children and your partner.
  58. Make amends when you’re wrong or grumpy or harsh with your kids.
  59. Periodically assess your life and change course if needed. Don’t be unhappy just because you think you can’t change.
  60. Take a class or learn a new skill with your kids.
  61. Act as if you’re the best dad ever.
  62. Imagine you’ve only got one week left to live. How would you treat your kids? What’s stopping you from doing that right now?
  63. Let your kids see you cry.
  64. Explore every park in your town.
  65. Once in a while, take a day off just because, and spend it with your family.
  66. Find out about your family history and start sharing it with your kids.
  67. Give high fives for each tiny accomplishment they make.
  68. Get out of debt as quick as you can, and teach your kids about the value of being debt-free.
  69. Take a big leap when you see an opportunity, and show your children about trust, faith, and the virtue of following your dreams.
  70. Get down on their level and try to see things as they do. Chances are, you’ve forgotten what it’s like.
  71. Learn some really corny kid jokes and use them often.
  72. Hold a family meeting and get your kid’s input on important decisions.
  73. Don’t just give your kids the answers to questions. Show them how to find the answers.
  74. Remember, they’re never too old for piggyback rides.
  75. Have patience with your children. Don’t expect them to be perfect.
  76. Don’t insist on conformity. Let your kids follow their dreams, not yours.
  77. Hold their hands, literally.
  78. Remember to let your children save face. Embarrassing them in front of their friends is not cool.
  79. Keep your relationship issues between you and your wife. Don’t let your kids take on all your crap.
  80. When your children were babies, you gushed over them. Do the same thing for them now.
  81. Don’t gossip around your kids.
  82. Stand up for the weak, the oppressed, the underdog.
  83. Grow a beard. (Actually, I just put that in to see if you were paying attention.)
  84. Take your child to work with you and explain what you do for a living.
  85. Make something by hand with them. Don’t worry about perfection, just enjoy the process.
  86. Once in a while, give them a “get out of jail free” card.
  87. Tell your children how much they mean to you.
  88. Follow through on your promises to them.
  89. Give your kids responsibilities.
  90. Speak to your children as your equals. Give them the respect you ask for.
  91. Plan surprises for them and keep them guessing.
  92. When speaking to other adults, act as if your kids were listening.
  93. Play games with your children. Let them win sometimes, but don’t make it obvious or easy.
  94. Before you walk in the door from work, take some deep breaths and leave your work outside.
  95. Give mom the day off once in a while, and get the kids to help you pamper her.
  96. Be generous with your time, your energy, and your money. Give freely to those in need.
  97. Cultivate your fatherhood Superpowers.
  98. Don’t let other adults get away with unacceptable behavior around your kids.
  99. Remember the Golden Rule. It does apply to your children as well.
  100. Find your center and define what truly matters to you. Make that your inner retreat when life throws you a curve ball, and share that with your kids.

What have I missed? Please leave a comment with your addition to this list.

 

About Derek

Personal, Parenting and Natural Living Bio:

I’m a husband, a father, and a carrier of things.

I think peanut butter on anything is great.

I love big mountains and little kids, ’cause they make me smile, and I drink a double americano almost every day.

I’m a nature boy, a tree-hugging dirt-worshiper. I try to live with reverence for our web of life.

I like big trees and large boulders, cold mountain streams and redrock desert, the smell of pinyon and sage. I’d rather be sitting in a canoe in the wilderness than the backseat of a Rolls Royce.

(As long as the canoe had an espresso machine and a wireless connection…)

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, composting (sawdust) toilets, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues.

In my life I’ve been a factory worker, a farmer, a grocery clerk, a handyman and jack of all trades. I’ve worked at fast food joints and car washes, for temp agencies and day labor hire, for moving companies and landscapers. I’ve driven forklifts and bobcats, and I’ve installed solar panels and sold fruit at the farmers market. I spent 10 years in the natural foods industry, most recently as the general manager of a natural foods co-op.

I support local food production and am a regular at the farmers market and our local food co-op. The dream of a sustainable homestead is still alive for us, and our self-sufficient zero-energy input green home is being planned. Our permaculture oasis is a sustainable small-scale village. Single-speed bicycles, drumming, and DIY anything can really make me grin.

 


 

Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

Being Close to Your Partner through Active Listening

loving coupleHow often do you argue with your partner and you feel misunderstood? How many times do you respond with anger, defending yourself or becoming cross when she or he doesn’t get you? Close connection comes through really seeing our partner, understanding who he or she is. Essential for that are active listening and empathy.

What is Active Listening?

“Seek first to understand, and then be understood” (Stephen R Covey)

• We are used to listen to ourselves in response to what the other person is saying. That means we ‘listen’ to our reactions of what the other has said, judging, commenting it in our mind and formulating a response, waiting only for our turn to speak

• We jump in, give opinions and possible solutions, before the other person has really finished

Active listening, however, is when we stop focusing on our own agenda and thoughts and focus fully on our partner’s words, intonation, body language and facial expression.

When we truly want to understand we need to listen actively, that means:

• Give our full attention, this can be shown by moving our body towards the speaker, nodding our mirroring their body language

• We can repeat and summarise key words and phrases. Be careful to use their words, so that you don’t change the meaning of what they said.

You show that you are really listening when you do that and it reaffirms the speaker, that you understood.

• Reflect back the emotion that you hear them express. Like: ‘You sound very sad…’ However, if in doubt, leave the emotion. You don’t want to make the speaker believe he/she is sad, for example, if they are not.

• By paraphrasing what the other has said you encourage him/her to carry on and when you feel you have come to a point in the conversation where it would be helpful for you to interpret what has been said, this can be useful for the speaker, as it clarifies his/her thinking.

The aim of active listening is that you are able to truly understand and therefore feel yourself into his/her position and are able to respond with empathy and compassion.

To practice active listening, arrange a special evening, order or cook some special food and have a candlelight dinner or anything that you know your partner will find romantic or will appreciate your efforts for.

Have a “listening” evening. Each person has time to talk without being interrupted for five, ten (you decide what feels best) minutes. The other listens. Make sure you really listen and don’t let your thoughts drift off (if they do, make sure you come back to listening actively). Take what you hear as feelings and thoughts of your partner, rather than “the truth”. This means you won’t get into justification mode (“she always accuses me of this”, “I never said that…”). Active listening means you look each other in the eyes, you can nod, you might want to clarify points (but not question what the other has said!).

Start your sentences with “I”, if that helps you talk about yourself, rather than accuse your partner of something.

Get closer. Listen to your partner. Become (re)connected. Enjoy!

(Based on Stephen R. Covey’s work* and other researchers, I have summarised in this post how their work can support your communication with your child(ren) and partner.

*Steven R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Schuster Ltd., 2004

 

 

P.S. I still run my campaign AWESOME WORKSHOPS for AWESOME DADS at Indiegogo. I raise funds in order to offer workshops for fathers (on a low or no income) in my community. Wanna help me? Awesome. Click HERE.

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