Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers

Father Nation: A New Global Library Of Dad Interviews

Father Nation – that’s a big name for a big project. And, yes, Jesse Foster – founder of FatherNation.Com, is ambitious. He wants to create the most extensive library of dad interviews available online. Jesse has started to interview dozens and dozens of fathers from all over the world to present their views and thoughts in his podcast.

I think FatherNation.Com is an awesome idea and I personally have listened to many stories from dads who share their ideas, resources, dreams and tips on how to become a better father. It is amazing how much Jesse has already achieved, given the short time in which his project went online and on air.

I talked to Jesse, who is from Colorado, a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed chatting to him. So, I wanted to find out more about him and his great project. Here is a little interview I did with the guy who normally asks the questions:

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Torsten: FatherNation.Com sounds big. What is FatherNation and who is your audience?
Jesse Foster: Father Nation does sound a bit big, but I wanted a name that would encompass dads from a variety of different backgrounds. There are dads out there from Iceland with twin two-year old boys and other dads from the US with teenage daughters, but no matter what stage a dad is in and where he lives, we all are in a sense one nation because we can all relate to each other being fathers. Father Nation is for any dad out there who wants to hear about the experience of other dads and gain wisdom in talking about fatherhood.

How did you develop the idea around FatherNation and where did you start?
I developed the idea after my wife was pregnant with our second. I realised that being a dad was one of my most important “jobs” in life and i myself desired to connect with more dads and become a better father. I started basically researching more about podcasting, and over the course of several months the ideas in my head morphed into what it is today.

Do you have a long-term goal for your project?
I would like Father Nation to be the most extensive library of dad interviews available online.

How many dads have you talked to already and where do you find more dads who come on your show?
I’ve interviewed about 40, and I mainly find them online doing various google searches. It takes usually 5 emails to get 1 response, so I’ve probably sent over 200 requests out to various websites/emails

Who is Jesse Foster? Please tell me a little about you.
Jesse FosterI’m 34 with two children, my son is 2 and my daughter is not even 2 months yet. I’ve been married almost 4 years. I’ve taught English overseas and I love sports, but once I had my first child I became more interested in parenting, obviously. I went to the University of Colorado and majored in Philosophy.

What were, so far, the three most inspirational moments when talking with fathers?
I really enjoyed hearing Ted DiBiase say, “Children don’t always do what you say, but they always do what they see you do” because I’ve found that to be so true so far in my parenting experience. I liked hearing about Tim Olsen remind us that no matter what background you come from and your past, you can become a better dad today. And I enjoyed Devon Bandison tell about taking his son to the NBA draft and that it’s not always what you do together, but just about being together.

Where would you like to see FatherNation in five years’ time?
Wow, in 5 years I haven’t even thought too much about 1 year to be honest, I’m trying to focus on one day at a time and my main goal so far is just to do many interviews for the launch and the first 3 months, after that see how it goes. In 5 years I hope it is a success, I may cut back on the amount of interviews over time but we’ll see, I hope it’s a place where dads can come to hear about the experience of other dads, and a place where dads can find information and resources.

What do you enjoy about fatherhood?
It’s difficult to choose just one thing or two, but I really enjoy just speaking to my son now (he’s only 2) and watching him learn and grow. I haven’t met him, but a man named Michael Pearl has a motto, “No greater joy” because being a father should be a joy, and for me mostly it is.

Anything else you would like to share?
For me, as a Christian, I want to share with my son my values, but I know that sharing is usually not enough, you have to live and practice what you value in order for it to have an impact. I think the same is true for fatherhood, I feel like in starting Father Nation I have put more responsibility on myself to be a better dad, but I think we all know that being a father is a big responsibility no matter what we do. I’d just say focus on becoming a better dad, because I think we all can improve in some ways, and if you are getting better, then at least you are going in the right direction!

Thank you, Jesse, and good luck with FatherNation.Com!

Follow on twitter: @Father_Nation and Facebook


 

Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

Sex And Parenting: Can The Two Of Them Get It On?

AnthonyIn my series about inspirational fathers, I would like to introduce to you Anthony Eldrigde-Rogers. Anthony lives with his partner and their three unschooled children in Italy and he’s interested in many, many exiting things: He has been involved in photography, film making, commercials production, pop videos, producing, directing….marketing PR, environmental projects….writing screenplays…then there was farming fruit and having a restaurant…to name but a few. He has always been interested in people, how people live and make sense of their lives. Now Anthony is working as a Recovery and Wellness Coach…. he trains coaches, and is writing a book (soon to be published), plus various plants for retreats and… you see, the list is long!

I so much love Anthony and his family’s blog which you can find here: www.unschoolingthekids.com

Now, I invite you to read Anthony’s post on sex and parenting and on how creative you can be to find the time for both. Enjoy!

Sex And Parenting: Can The Two Of Them Get It On?

First off a quick warning. I am going to mention s*x in this blog…..you have been warned.

Homeschooling, unschooling, home education. Whatever we call it usually means that children are around a lot. From dawn to dusk. I love it and so does my partner but…….it raises a challenge for the intimate part of our relationship. Before we had children….yes I can remember it well, we had freedom.

You know, get up late, stay in bed all day. Walk around naked all though the house and generally enjoy an open sensuous life.

We don’t do that anymore but not all has been lost. Now, apart from the intense adjustment that twins bring, having a baby is well a game changer. Post birth, about 12 month in and post breast feeding and before the next one came along there was a brief period where things slightly adjusted. But of course it has never been the same again.

I remember when they were all babies and we talked about schooling. Lurking in the back of my mind was the idea that when school started we might have the chance to kick back for a couple hours a day from time to time (us being self employed and all that) and revisit pre baby adult life.

That did work a bit until we stopped sending the kids to school! Then it collapsed.

But it matters. I believe that the adult carers, usually parents or a couple in an intimate relationship, should be the prime focus of family life as this is in the best interest of the children. Mum and Dad happy and singing off the same (ok, similar) hymn sheet means more harmony, balance and good feeling. Equals better for les enfants terrible.

If the wellbeing of the primary relationship is based in part on intimacy, sensuous engagement and good old in the sack lust then it needs to be kindled and kept burning in the grate of desire.
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In our house the windows of opportunity are slim and often ill timed. Sure we can get cracking on these things after the kids are asleep but in reality by 10pm I and my beloved are often basket cases. Can hardly string a word to a word to a word. And we long ago learnt to never, ever ever try to have a serious emotional conversation about anything important that we might disagree about after 4.00pm. Disaster. All the gremlins come out for a party.

So that leaves when? Er, early morning? Well our son has been getting up before us for several years now and even if we could set a ‘love’ alarm early enough can we get past the anxiety that he will get up a bit earlier and find us rolling around? So we lock the door right? True but you cannot put a lock on your psyche so a mere knock at the door might come at any time and he might have been standing there for a few minutes before hand!

And this is assuming we got past needing a coffee first thing (yup, I confess I have a major coffee habit first thing. And I know I am a wellness coach so should be on it and I am really). And then what about actually summoning up the actual desire? That can take a while. I am not a robot you know. Can’t just flick a switch and game on!

So late at night is a challenge and so is early am. That leaves the day. When the kids are around all day more or less. And as the girls schedule is different to our sons then only occasionally are they both out. It seems like once a decade.

We resorted some time ago to using hotels. When we just couldn’t find the space at home we would find a babysitter and go to a hotel. Not for the night necessarily. Sometimes we ended driving home at 12pm to relieve said baby sitter.

BED PICThose trips were and are gorgeous. Not only do we get the chance to slow down and chill and just have a bit of quiet but we get to have a conversation for as long as we want without getting interrupted! Yay! That’s adult gold.

So we plan more of them.

We work at it. We have to. Oxytocin rules. Intimacy makes for positive hormones which makes for closeness and good feeling. We adults need this as part of our natural health. We meet parents from time to time who seem to wear the “Oh we have never had a night alone in 12 years since the kids came” badge of honour. Usually, if we share that we do hotels they look righteously envious and irritated with us all at the same time.

But there is a deeper point here I want to end on.

Children learn by watching and sensing what adults actually do and they are masters of intuition. You can’t bullshit them. They glean and code how relationships work from the ones they see. If they see adults making time for each other. Committing to that, smiling, hand holding, being intimate. Looking like you do when you have had a heavenly hour or two just lying in bed and around with your lover. They feel it and know it for what it is. Love between two people in a relationship. If they don’t get it from us where will they get it from? A book? Er um well our son can’t read quite yet. Anyway you can’t read it into your life.

As I grew up I never realised until I was about 12 that adults actually touched each other affectionately. I was astounded! It made my adult to adult explorations rather difficult as it felt weird for a few years. Now I am affection nut. You name it I will hug it. I sometimes kiss things around the house ( to amuse the kids ) but actually quite enjoy it.

So intimacy requited matters. It binds and bonds and shows all without words but with behaviours and actions.

Anthony Eldridge-Rogers is a Recovery to Wellness Coach

He writes for www.unschoolingthekids.com as well as www.recoveryandwellnessblog.com


 

 

Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Society

Have Confident Kids Without (Over)Praising Them

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Imagine you just had good sex with your partner. You hopefully feel relaxed and peaceful now; you might try to keep the good atmosphere. Suddenly your partner rolls over to you, he or she sticks a gold star on your cheek and says “Well done. Good lad!” Yes, that would feel very odd. You laugh out loud or check your partner’s forehead (is she in a delirium?) Agreed, this example is quite unlikely to be true, but nevertheless it’s something we use every day when judging our children’s performances in school, during activities or at home.
Alfie Kohn writes in his book Unconditional Parenting (a very good read), that ‘in our culture’s workplaces, classrooms, and families, there are two basic strategies by which people with more power try to get  people with less power to obey. One way is to punish non-compliance. The other is to reward compliance.’That’s how it works, unfortunately. Bribery, punishment and rewards are ground pillars of our society. So no wonder that parents use them as well. How often do we hear phrases like ‘clean up your bedroom or you won’t watch TV’ or ‘if you do your homework now, then you’ll get a sticker’?

Research confirms how ineffective rewards are when it comes to improving the quality of someone’s work or learning. Children and adults alike are less successful at many tasks when they’re offered a reward for doing them.

So why on earth are we using rewards? Is it the way we were conditioned as children? Always dependent on praise and positive judgements from our parents, teachers, friends – and later on in life, partners and bosses. And what happens to us when we don’t get that praise? How do we feel then?

That’s exactly the issue. We focus on a job or task to finish and think ‘Hey, I really like what I  do here and it looks great’. Then we look for approval from someone. If then no-one says to us ‘Well done’ or ‘Good job !’, we might feel empty, less worth or even rejected. Well, that’s how I often felt when I didn’t get my daily dosage of praise.

The more people are rewarded for doing something, the more likely they are to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. It’s hard, sometimes I still fall into the trap of trying to please people in order to be praised.

‘Good Job/Well done can interfere with how well a job actually gets done. Researches keep finding that individuals who are praised for doing well at a creative task often stumble at the next task. Why? Partly because the praise creates pressure to keep up the good work that gets in the way of doing so. Partly because people’s interest in what they’re doing may have declined (because now the main goal is just to get more praise)’ (Kohn).

So what is it I want for my children? Do I want my sons to engage in reading because they’re curious about how a story continues or do I make them read because I promised them some chocolate as reward?

What alternatives can I use?

Well, being empathic and using our creativity can help you a lot:

  • When your child achieves something (let’s say he/she paints a picture you really like and you see how proud they are), try not to judge or praise. Instead describe what you see (‘Today you have used a lot of red and purple and there’s that huge rainbow’). But don’t overload your child. Just give something to your child, he/she can reflect about. This way they’ll appreciate their work even more because you have showed true interest
  • Your child does something ‘for you’ (clearing the table or doing the washing up). Respond with a ‘Thank you’ instead of praise. Or you could say ‘I saw you already cleared the table. This helped me finishing our evening chores and so we have more time for reading/playing together’. Do you see the difference? You’re stating a fact, rather than giving a judgement.
  • Ask your child whether she/he enjoyed a certain activity. Let’s stick with the drawing example: ‘I saw you drawing that big picture earlier on. Was that fun for you?’
  • Join in. Children (and not children only) feel appreciated when we show a real interest and join their activity. So, get the pencils and paper out and start drawing yourself.

‘As a result of praise, children become less able or willing to take pride in their own accomplishments – or to decide what is an accomplishment. In extreme cases, they turn into praise junkies who, even as adults, continue to rely on other people for validation (…) Rewards and punishments can never help someone to develop a commitment to a task or an action’ (Kohn).

praise 2But that’s exactly what I want for my kids: that they can show commitment, passion and curiosity. I want them to explore, to discover and to learn without the fear of failing or not succeeding. Yes, they will make mistakes and yes, they will learn from those. They don’t need my or anyone else’s judgements to get better at things. They need people’s authentic feedback, to help them review and change and try something else. I’ll guide and support them as good as I can, but in the interest of their self-esteem and their confidence, I choose not to (over)praise. I want them to become gentle and caring members of society, without being dependent of others’ approval or expectations.

Read further: Alfie Kohn Unconditional Parenting

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Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

20 Things A Father Should Do This Year

DadsTalkBlue

A new year is here. I’m always excited about a new beginning. So many new opportunities and so many things I can try to achieve. Personally, I don’t much believe in new-year-resolutions. I don’t want to pressurise myself and then feel depressed by the end of January when I need to confess that all resolutions actually don’t work. Again.

So, this year I came up with a list of things I just want to continue doing and working on. But also I added things which I think would be great to try out. And I want to invite you, fathers on this planet, to join me. Pick the things you like and go ahead creating your own list. Whatever you choose to do, I believe in your own creativity and fatherhood power. Be my guest:

1) Love your children unconditionally. Yes, there a plenty of moments where they gonna mess up; where they drive you insane, and where your only safe place is the locked bathroom to get at least five minutes peace. Tantrums, scream fits, broken things and even lies. It’s all part of the package. But, they are still the most magnificent and wonderful people on this planet. So, forgive, reconnect, give the love you would have hoped for when you were a kid and screwed up. Why did I put it here as Number 1? Because it’s my personal reminder and the most important thing to me when it comes to parenting and fatherhood.

2) Spend more time with your kids. Since I’m a father myself I can confirm this: Time flies. It’s such a precious time. And your children are only little once. Before you blink twice they’ve grown up and go their ways. You’ll still be part of their life (hopefully), but it’s nothing compared with the first years. So, get down onto the floor, or in the sandpit, or into the woods and play. When you join their games be present and follow your kids’ rules.

3) Take a step back: Watch your kids. Observe how they play and what they like. Try to see things through their eyes. Listen to them. Not only their words, but also intonation, face expression and body language. This way you’ll learn a lot about them and yourself. Promised.

4) Hug your kids. Yes, it’s always good to ask them first and get permission. But 9 out of 10 times, kids will say: Yes, I want a hug. Do it. Every day.

5) Surprise your children and partner with a new dish. Raid your cookery books, ask a friend or search online. Get the ingredients and ask your children to help cooking. Make it special. Put some candles or fresh flowers onto the table.

6) Learn an instrument. Gosh, did I really say that? Yep. It’s great to see for children that grown-ups have challenges too. How do you cope with struggles and something completely new (that is if you don’t play an instrument). Wanna make it easier? Get an ukulele. You’ll be surprised how simple it is. Even if you’ve never played an instrument before, with an ukulele you should be able to play a simple tune after some hours or so of practicing. And hey, your kids can join you. What about a little family concert after a couple of months playing?

7) Make up a story. No, not from a book, it all starts with your own imagination. Make yourself comfortable on the sofa and snuggle up together with your children. You start telling a story by introducing a couple of characters and a scene of action. (Keep it simple. It could start like this: One beautiful morning a farmer called Joe opened the door to his barn. In the barn lived a cow, a horse, and some pigs…) Then at a crucial point (well, it doesn’t matter so much if there’s a crucial point, but hey- ho let’s assume we need one: Joe opened the barn door and then he suddenly saw… Pause) ask one of your children to take over and to carry on with the story line. Depending on age and abilities, the story could be ‘passed on’ from one to another. This can go on for hours… or days. (Until Joe very exhausted and tired went to bed).

8) Apologise. Yes, we as parents can lose it too. That’s fine. We’re responsible for our short falls and mistakes. So, show your kids that you can take that responsibility and have the guts to say you were wrong. This way they see you as something beautiful: being authentic and real.

9) Respect and love your partner. If you want your kids to have healthy and good relationships in their lives, then set the example. Listen with empathy, reflect on your actions, and speak with love and gentleness.

10) When you have to clean the house, invite your kids to a cleaning party. Do you know the saying ‘You either have children OR a clean house’? Well, I totally agree. But sometimes it’s necessary to get a certain order into that chaos. Yes, you can choose to be either miserable and grumpy about it, or to turn the whole cleaning into a fun party. Turn the music up, have a dance with the vacuum cleaner and wear the kitchen apron on your head. In no time your offspring want to join in and help. Believe me. Yes, you look silly. But that’s part of the parenting, isn’t it? (Lower your expectations – no it won’t look like your pre-kids days – well at least not for very long…) You might remove the apron when leaving the house or opening the front door.

11) Connect with nature. Going to the park is a good start. But I’m talking about a real connection. Go wild. Off road. No phone signal (yes, that’s the hardest bit). Take a tent, a fire kettle and a few things to ‘survive’. You’ll discover how little you need. Collect wood, make a fire, respect all creatures and life out there. I always find that spending time with my kids in the woods awakes the most powerful feelings inside me. I slow down, I feel a strong bond to my children and I feel somehow home. And it doesn’t cost you anything.

12) Invite your neighbours. OK, if they’re bonkers or drug abusing idiots, you might not. Otherwise it’s a good way to find out who really lives next door and to see how you could help each other. Many children love to meet new people (young and old alike) and they might feel safer when they know they can trust people in their close environment.

13) Volunteer and take your kids with you. That’s on my list for a long time. I really want this to happen. I so believe we can teach gentleness and how to care for others by setting this great example: volunteering. It could be anything: your local care home where you help for an afternoon by talking to residents or reading stories; planting trees with an environmental charity or by cooking food for some people in your neighbourhood who are lonely or in need. It’s up to you.

14) Be a relaxed father. Yes, thank you very much, Torsten. Anything else? I know, I find it hard myself to stay relaxed. Gosh, our lives are extremely busy and demanding. Work, families, relationships, friends, community, and so on. And on top of that our children who easily pick up from our mood and mirror our feelings. And if that’s stress, yes, then they’re stressed too. So, let’s take it a gear down. When you feel stressed, tell them. That’s your kids included. Sometimes it’s just that small break you need to calm down. It’s not selfish to say “I’m off for 10 minutes. I need time to myself!”. Do it: find activities that relax you – be it meditating, visualisation, muscle relaxation, having a bath – what is it for you?

15) Write emails to your children. This isn’t from me. I read it somewhere. Unfortunately, I forgot where. So if you read this and you are the creator of this idea, please forgive me for not naming you. But I love this: Open an email-account in your child(ren)’s name and send photos, love letters and all kind of stuff (well, your stuff) to this account. As often as you like. Write about your emotions and be bloody honest. Then when they turn older (14 or 16 or 18 or 21 or whenever you think it’s right), give them the password. Joy!

16) Take time for yourself. You’ve heard right. TIME FOR YOURSELF! Take a day or a weekend (it helps when you talk and plan together with your partner) and just focus on your needs and wishes. I’m dreaming of a weekend where I just go for a long bike ride (cycling I mean). A tent, a sleeping bag and my bike. Then, in the evening, somewhere in the countryside, I will make a fire, roast some bread and veggies and have a beer… Sounds awesome to me. Then coming back to my family, feeling fully recharged and energised. Oh yes, we all need a break from time to time.

17) Say I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH to your kids and partner. Well, that sounds cheesy. Mean it, for god’s sake. And they will appreciate it.

18) Grow a beard. I just wanted to write something silly. But hey, I like the idea of growing a beard. It’s just that normally I look like a troll or evil dwarf when I haven’t shaved for about four or so weeks. But my kids (and wife) like it when I get fluffy soft in the face. So, what’s more important? Your kids and wife love you or you look like dwarf Gimli?

19) Help another dad. Often men find it hard to open up. For some it takes a few good talks to break the ice. If you know someone who struggles or find it hard to be a father and/or partner, talk to him. Offer him time and space to be himself. We need more gentle, empathic, down-to-earth fathers. By helping and supporting each other, we can come closer to this goal.

20) Enjoy. And how you enjoy it, that’s up to you.

I wish you all the best for this New Year. Be authentic, be empathic, be yourself. Real fathers for great children.

 

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Creative Stuff

When Papa Bakes A Stollen…

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So, in my other post about this season of the year, I was talking about how we keep Christmas simple. Simplicity also means to me growing and cooking your own food. This way you know what’s in it and most of the time it’s cheaper and yummier. To get you and your kids baking, I got this old, old, old (gosh, very old) recipe from my Great Great Great Great Grandmother (I leave it up to you whether you believe me) who passed it on for generations…

It’s one of the wholiest things you can get for a true German Christmas celebration. Forget Bratwurst. Let cool down your Gluehwein (Mulled wine). Skip the Bretzels and Lebkuchen. It’s showtime for the unique, special, fabby-do German Christmas Bread – or The Stollen.

Dads (and Mums of course), let’s get baking:

Your Stollen needs:

  • A preheated oven at 200Celsius/Gas mark 6)
  • 50g Currants and 75g Sultanas (or Raisins do the job as well)
  • 4 tbsp Rum (It’s a good excuse to buy a whole bottle)
  • 380g White Flour
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon (or a bit more if you love cinnamon)
  • 2 tsp Dried Yeast mixed with 160ml lukewarm milk
  • 50g melted Butter
  • 1 lightly beaten Egg
  • 50g Mixed Chopped Peel
  • 50g Blanched Whole Almonds, chopped
  • For the Almond Filling: 120g Ground Almonds, 50g Caster & 50g Icing Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice and 1/2 slightly beaten Egg (no idea what to do with the other half)

1. Get all the currants and sultanas (or raisins) and put them into a bowl. Open the rum (have a small taster to check whether it’s a good one), warm it up (don’t boil) and pour it over the dried fruits. Leave them on the side to soak.

2. Don’t shake, but mix the flour sugar, and spices, pour in the yeasty milk, and make it into a nice batter. Get a cleanish tea towel (yep, that’s always the big problem), cover the batter and leave it in a warm place for about half an hour. Then add the butter and egg.

fairy3. Mix everything into a dough and knead for 8 to 10 minutes (nice job for the kids). Now let’s have a rest for 1 to 2 hours (have more rum) and wait for the dough to double in size. Mix the almond filling ingredients into a paste. Knead all the fruits and nuts into the dough.

4. Now roll the dough into a oval-ish shape. Form the almond paste into a long roll, put it in the centre, fold the dough over the paste, brush the edges with milk, rest for about 45 minutes. Then into the oven and let the Stollen bake for 30 minutes.

5. Once the Stollen has cooled down, cover it with as much icing sugar as you like. Then wrap the Stollen into cling film (or a nice clean tea towel) and put into a coldish place to rest (and don’t tell anyone where you put it).

6. After a week your Stollen is yummy and lovely and ready to eat. Some people even leave their Stollen for weeks or months before they would eat it (my father used to eat Stollen for Easter). Well, we never waited that long, it’s too tempting.

So, get into your kitchen now and surprise your loved ones with something very special this year.

Frohe Weihnachten!

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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.