Parenting and Empathic Fathers

Pre-Birth Tensions

birthing poolIt’s so important: the time prior to a birth. Families and couples prepare themselves for the big moment. Ideally everything should be in place and ready for the moment when the baby decides it’s time to enter this world.

Ideally, indeed that’s a good word. We’re expecting our third child. Basically at any time now. Due date was yesterday. And, so far I had the feeling everything is fine, and with the experience of two lovely home births in the past I felt somehow prepared and relaxed.

A few weeks ago we started with first preparations. My boys and I inflated the birthing pool for the first time, our lovely midwife came around to talk things through, my wife and I have been listening to birth relaxation CDs, and we created a backup plan for the whereabouts of our kids when birth takes place. We even raided the kitchen cupboard and made some very delicious energy balls for the time of birth and after.

So, all good then?! Well, I must admit things have turned slightly against us and I get that panicky feeling of being stressed. Today my wife followed her nest-building-instinct: we started clearing and cleaning the house to make it more cosy. Since then everything went downhill:

The boys – running around full of tension, anger and temper. The birthing pool – decided to have a hole. The idea of peace and quiet – gone.

I could scream. Honestly, I was so looking forward to this special pre-birth time, when things quiet down and tensions fall off. The exact opposite is happening here. For about an hour I tried to repair the birthing pool with a combination of blu tac, a bike repair patch, sellor tape and swearing. At the same time my heavily pregnant wife chased after our youngest, who was on a mission to either destroy things or leaving messes in corners we just had tidied. Both results, repairing the pool and calming down the little one, were less than successful.

I could scream again. Well, no, I just decide to take a short break. Really, it doesn’t help now to get worked up about things I can’t change or control. Yes, the boys are tense, no wonder. For weeks and months they have been waiting quite patiently for this time. It must have been like an endless journey for them. So, all their anxieties, joy and excitement is bubbling up now. The pool, well, it’s not ideal but it will be alright. Stop worrying, Torsten!

I tell you what I do now. I’ll go down and make a cake. A nice almond-coconut cake. The boys can help me and things will be alright. After we had the cake we can carry on in building our nest. Not long to go until our little one will be here. Let’s take a deep breath and carry on. I see you on the other side… in a few days… or hours…

sign

 


 

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.
heart

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


 

 

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, Society

Our Obsession With ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’

IMG_0391You hear it wherever you go with small children: playgrounds, supermarkets, nurseries, playgroups – you name it. And it always follows the same structure. A child wants something – a certain food, a toy or even just the permission to go on a swing. You can actually often see and feel the vibrant excitement in that child awaiting the parent’s/adult’s response or approval. And then, the child is just bursting for impatience, the parent bends down, raises an eyebrow and shoots that one arrow straight into a child’s heart: ‘What DO YOU say?’ or even sometimes in decrypted adult language and with a cunning smile: ‘What’s the MAGIC word?’ Watch that child again. The excitement has gone. The bubble of curiosity has burst. One question can destroy so much.

Instead of looking forward to a nice food/drink, a toy or an activity, the child is caught in a guilt trap. Observe that child again. You see them thinking hard. One, two, three…. Damn, what is it Mum wants? What is the magic word again? Sometimes the child is near a crying breakdown or just emotionally blocked to say anything. Some adults then say ‘SAY Thank you’ or ‘SAY Please’ as a ‘reminder’.

Forget it. The adult knows the answer already, but he/she won’t give in until he/she gets her f***ing ‘PLEASE’ or ‘THANK YOU’. And you know what, they call it ‘teaching manners’ or ‘being polite’. I call it bribery, blackmailing, emotional manipulation or short: rubbish.

We don’t teach children anything by enforcing so-called manners or made-up rules by society. Yes, I want my children to be kind and polite people and I tell you what, they’re lovely, kind and caring boys. That’s without any pressure or blackmailing.

The secret (not sure if it is a secret, actually) lies in the way we role model. Children (especially the younger ones) WANT to copy us. The way we live, talk, respond is our children’s ‘classroom’. They watch us and will integrate our words and habits into their daily play and interactions. So, you want polite and well-mannered kids? Well, set the example yourself. Be friendly, don’t shout, be polite, say ‘Please’, say ‘Thank you’, don’t f***ing swear (never!). Easy, isn’t it?!

 

Recently I talked to a very experienced speech- and language therapist. She and various brain development researches confirm, that kids at the age of two or three (but I have actually seen parents who tried to train even their 18-months-old toddler) are not ready at all to understand or to follow our codex of manners. What they really want in that moment is that apple, toy or attention. ‘Teaching’ them by enforcing ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can have an damaging impact onto their self- esteem and confidence (and speech development).

Children won’t learn gratitude and respect that way either. A ‘Please’ or ‘Thank you’ should come from their and our hearts, not in order to get praised or to please anyone. That’s why it is so important for parents and other key adults to be positive, friendly and polite. Let’s create that warm, nurturing environment and atmosphere for our kids. No bribery, no punishments, but unconditional love.

So, my wife and I never asked or forced our kids to say ‘Please’ or ‘Thank you’. But, in our home we are friendly and polite to each other. When we have dinner and I ask my wife or my kids for the butter, then I use ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. Again, I role model. Maybe not all the time, but most. Guess what, it works! My eldest, now six, says very often the not so magic words. Because he’s seen it many, many times and has now understood, that it’s actually quite nice to be nice to each other. Awesome, isn’t it?! Sometimes, he forgets, but I’m not worried (and certainly won’t remind him), I trust that he does what feels right to him in our family (and outside) culture.

sign

 

 

 


 

Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships, Society

Family Circle: Family First (Guest Post)

Today I would like to introduce Paul Wandason to you. He is a father, blogger and author. In this post Paul is reflecting about his relationships with the immediate family, relatives, friends and all the other people who play important and sometimes less important roles… You’ll find a short bio and links to Paul’s blog and social media sites at the end of his post. And please, feel free to discuss and comment this post… It’s always great to hear what you think!

Family priority

I recently read an interesting and insightful post on voiceboks. In that post the point was made that it doesn’t matter if your family members do something wrong…because they’re family. And you still go to visit family even if you know beforehand there are going to be problems of some sort…because they’re family.

Family first

As long as I can remember (and probably beyond…) it’s always been crystal clear: it’s always family first.
My wife laughs at me because I seem to have a system of “circles” when it comes to family, friends and trust.
Is it right to have a system? Actually, system sounds very structured and mechanical. But I didn’t sit down and think it up…it’s just that I was brought up in a very loving family with a very strong sense of family. It’s always been family first within my family, and I strive to keep that the same today.

My wife is different. The family she was raised up in, by comparison, is very weak. But I must say that they have a larger share of close friends – a bigger merging between family and friend (or my “inner and outer circles”).
Should we keep our family separate and special from the outside world? Or should family love be extended and shared out, implicitly trusting ‘outsiders’ and welcoming them into our family circle more easily?

I suppose I prefer the first option – I was raised in a strong, tight family environment. It seems natural. I feel special and loved within my family. And secure. On the flip side, my wife’s family have a large network of people / contact they can call on for help.
So welcome to my world…what do you think of my family circle system! 😉

Inner circle (inner)

Unconditional love for: My immediate family (wife and children) and the family I grew up in (Mum, Dad and my brothers).
Members of the inner circle can get away with anything. I would die for them, no questions. Family first!

Inner circle (slightly outer)

Slightly further out from the inner circle is the immediate family of my brothers (nieces, nephews, wives). I love them unconditionally and would do anything for them too, although ‘first allegiance’ is to my own family (e.g. I’d give a kidney to my daughter before my niece, to my brother before his wife, etc..)
Love is love. I don’t love more or less. I love each differently. I love my wife in a different way than I love my daughters, but I love them all infinitely. Same with all members of the inner circle. It’s all very fuzzy!

heart lawn

Middle circle (inner)

The middle circle is for other family members (e.g. by (diluted) blood or legal proceedings). Aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and their families.
Family members here are…family (duh!) so generally I trust them over non-family members.
For example, I trust that a family member has the best interests of my children closer to their heart than someone from daycare. I don’t always agree with my in-laws’ child ‘care’ methods…but I do know that they have a genuine love for my children.
Daycare on the other hand are more in line with my ideas about caring for children (and listen to me when I talk about preferences etc.), but at the same time they wouldn’t jump in front of a car to protect my girls, as I’m sure my in-laws would. I trust the motivations from my in-laws (love), but not those from daycare (money).
It’s the spirit of the law, not the letter.

I guess that’s what makes a hero – someone who does jump in front of a car for non-family members. And close trusted friends. They’re in the middle circle too; I know they’d do the same.
There is also a degree of fuzziness in the middle circle as it has both close family and friends. But where “blood is thicker than water” for the inner circle, there’s room for some thin blood and some thick water in the middle circle!

Middle circle (outer)

Friends.

Outer circle

Everyone else. This isn’t personal exclusion, it’s just that I don’t know these people yet, and I’d hope that one day I’ll be friends with them and they’ll drift into my middle circle.
Actually, when I say “everyone else”, what I really mean is “everyone else except those who are…

Beyond the circle

People in this ‘cloud’ are out of orbit and off the chart and get here through an eviction process. This is the region of anti-circle where instead of not having trust, there is extreme distrust. I try to keep these cretins out of my life completely, and certainly out of the lives of my inner circle.
There’s an expression about keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer. Rubbish. I don’t want my enemies anywhere near!

Clash of the circles

So there it is, my circle system which has somehow come into an empirical formation. But…I’m also a scientist and need to be objective. Does the circle system always work? I don’t think so – here’s a funny conversation I had a couple of days ago which shows why:
The setting
My friend had been sick for a few days, so I sent her an email asking if she was feeling better.

Friend: “I’m feeling a bit better now, but I’m staying at home today just to make sure. My daughter’s at the play group so I’ve got the house to myself.”

Me :”Good idea – if it’s nice and quiet you can relax and recuperate.”

Friend: “Well, actually I’m really worried because now my daughter is sick, so I hope she’ll be OK at the playgroup.”

Me :”Yikes! That means my own girls will get sick too then.”

Friend: “Come on Paul…it’s only a cold.”

And yes…I admit that I followed up with:

Me :”Well if it’s only a cold…stop complaining!”

She saw the humour in that, but equally it’s clear that as parents focused on the well-being of our own children in our own inner circles, we have warped view of the global picture of reality! 😉
From a Daddy, Paul

 

About the Author:

Paul Wandason is a father of 2, husband of one and master of none. He lives his life wrapped around 2 little fingers and under 1 thumb…and loves it! His Daddy blog is FromaDaddy where he writes his thoughts and experiences as a Dad, and sometimes, a few practical hints and tips. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

How to be a Better Husband: Find Common Ground

I love reaching out to other fathers/parents. Very recently I discovered Derek Markham’s blog NaturalPapa.com
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!

Check out what Derek says about himself:

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.

The post today comes from his blog and you can find the original post HERE. Now, enjoy reading it:

People grow apart. It’s as natural as people growing closer – they develop different interests, have different time or money demands, or they may begin cultivating new habits or dropping old habits. And in friendships, this may not ever be a concern, as we’re much more likely to still retain a friendship even if it’s only a fraction of the interest we once had. However, in a marriage, growing apart can be fatal to the relationship.

There exists a perfect couple somewhere in the universe, a couple whose marriage is always in a smooth strong upward swing. And then there are the rest of us… Our relationships swing wildly from hot to cold, from spending-every-minute-together to hoping-you-don’t-argue-today, from “true love” to divorce court.

One big factor in the strength of a relationship is the existence of some common ground and a shared dream between the people. It’s a no-brainer, really. We like and admire and love and want to be around people who share similar experiences and want to achieve similar goals.

As a new couple, we spend lots of time together – talking about the things we love and care about, attending events that we both enjoy, and participating in each other’s lives through mutual interests and friends. We may dream of a future together, and may look to build on each other’s strengths for a common dream.

But at some point, perhaps after the birth of your first child, or after one or both of your careers kick in, or you relocate and lose your social group, the common ground you once shared begins to be washed away, right out from beneath your feet. And if your shared dreams get neglected by one or both of you, you may find yourself in a relationship which has no magnetic attraction for you anymore.

Let’s face it, if:

  • You want to disappear into a book each night, and she prefers to watch romantic movies
  • You enjoy Farmville, and she wants a backyard farm
  • She’s working out three days a week and you’re polishing off all of the leftovers
  • Talking about your work bores her to tears, and talking about her day is something you try to avoid
  • Your version of cooking for her consists of picking up takeout, but she’d rather go to the farmers market

then chances are, you’re growing apart.

couple 1And if you both begin to always choose your favorite over theirs, then you’re not going to be growing closer anytime soon. You’ll be on autopilot, going through the motions in your relationship without any of the passion or excitement or shared experiences which add spice and flavor to a marriage.

The simplest place to look for common ground between you is in the past – what did you both really enjoy doing ‘back in the day’? Revisiting some of those things together might help rekindle something of interest between you. It may also simply trigger a nostalgic desire for ‘the good old days’, so looking to the past might not be very successful for you – especially since we want a better relationship right here and right now, between you in this moment and her in this moment. And that means accepting that she isn’t the same woman you married, and you aren’t the same man that she married.

You can build common ground again, though. It takes time, effort, and openness, but who ever said relationships are easy? In my experience, the effects of a stronger, closer marriage greatly outweigh the work involved to get there, and the following are a few ways which can help you begin.

  • Ask, listen, learn: Ask about her day and how she is, and then let her speak freely. Just listen and pay attention, asking questions if you want, but not trying to ‘fix’ her problems or minimize her issues. Make a habit of opening that dialog whenever it you can. You’ll learn a lot about what makes her tick, and with any luck, you’ll also find some common ground.
  • Ask her to share something with you: Make a point of trying to get her to share some of her interests with you regularly, to show you something new and interesting in her world. Be attentive and attempt to see how those things enrich her life, which in turn enriches your shared life.
  • Share something new with her: Be willing to take the time to let her experience some of your world, through you, by sharing something which excites or energizes you. Maybe she’s bored to tears with your interests because you expect her to understand how you feel about it. She probably doesn’t, so show her.
  • Do it together: Go with her to something she really enjoys, but which you avoid. Pretend you’re new around here, and approach it with an open mind. Leave the jokes and criticism at home, please, and instead look at how her face lights up when she’s talking about it. Next, invite her to something you enjoy and share your passion for it with her by explaining what appeals to you and how it affects you. Look for an aspect of it that you think she would appreciate.
  • Dream a little dream: Start setting aside regular times when you both can talk about and plan for the future. Where do you want to be in five years? In ten years? As individuals? As a couple? Start forging a plan which includes both of your dreams, and look for those pieces of it which complement each other – those are great places to start collaborating and doing things together. Don’t just write the dream out and then shelve it. You need a living dream, not some words on paper, so revise and refine and chip away at it as a shared project.

 

Wanna read more stuff by Derek? Check out his blog NaturalPapa.com, connect with him on facebook and follow him on twitter!