Wednesdays with Dave
“Here is your daughter,” said the doctor. The magnitude of that moment hit me in so many ways when they placed her in my arms for the first time. I felt a wave of emotion and I knew that every area of my life was going to be changed by this little girl. The second thought I had was that no matter what happened, I was going to be her Dad. No matter how horrible I was, or how far I ran, the reality was,that I was always going to be her Dad. Then the next wave hit me and I went to the bathroom and threw up. Being a Dad is a big deal and how we take hold of it matters,but the one fact that can’t be changed, is that you are a Dad. You can be a good Dad, a bad Dad, a barely there Dad, a caring Dad, etc., but you are a Dad. Don’t hide from it, but be open to being a student of fatherhood, dedicated to doing your best and prepared to learn what it means to be a good dad. Don’t let your past define you, your fears and insecurities cripple you, or your career ambitions consume you. It is good to feel the enormity of being a Dad, but we all need help. None of us have it all figured out. If you’re struggling to find resources, or just need to know there are other Dad’s out there, please reach out to the Belleville Pregnancy and Family Care Centre to connect with our Dad’s program.
One of the special roles we have as dads is in the area of helping our kids to learn. Research shows that when fathers are involved, children do better in school both socially and academically. When it comes to our children’s learning, dads have a unique ability to spark a hunger for creativity and discovery. We can open up the world in our children’s minds with our words, our presence, and our actions so that they see something new and enjoy things in a new way. The problem is, that life seems to smash the joy of learning out of most of us. Busy schedules can squash our children’s creativity. In the midst of the regular chaos we try to simply survive by going to work, getting our kids to whatever lesson, practice or program, and getting them back to bed. How can we help our kids to widen their eyes to the world around them and capture the joy of learning in the midst of it all?
First of all, are we still enjoying learning ourselves? When was the last time you watched a show that taught you something new or picked up a book that made you see the world in a totally different way? Capture that joy of learning for yourself. Kids notice a dad who is constantly nagging them to do their homework, but in their own lives have stopped learning long ago.
Second, don’t feel like you always have to hit a home run when you just need a base hit. We don’t always have time to take our kids for an hour long hike and amaze them with our knowledge of the woods, or sit under the stars and explain the mysteries of the universe. Sometimes, it can be as simple as pointing out the bees flying in and out of the flowers next to the McDonalds drive thru while you’re on your way to the millionth swimming lesson and asking them, “What are those bees up to?” Maybe while you’re running around Wal-Mart, point out what country a product has come from and ask them, “What continent is that country in?” It’s an amazing thing when kids can be awakened to the opportunities to learn through the world around them outside of the four walls of a classroom.
Finally, don’t stop Dads. Life is hard, life is busy, but the role of helping our kids to learn will make a rich legacy that will live on a very long time.
Spending time together is something that is happening less and less. In a world that is more connected then every before a new reality is emerging. We don’t spend as much time with other people face to face; talking, laughing, and eating a meal. We have replaced so many of our interactions with people with interacting with devices which makes certain situations more efficient such as a checkouts at a grocery store but one area that technology will never replace is the presence of a father. There are some unique benefits for child development that comes from having a father there. Studies have shown that the way fathers play with their children is different than that of a mother. Fathers tend to be more spontaneous in their play helping develop kid’s curiosity. This fact might not be in the front of children’s mind but what will be is that they know when Dad’s here anything can happen. They also tend to encourage rougher play which within proper limits can help children develop self-confidence. So let’s spend time with our kids. Don’t worry so much about making the most amazing Instagram perfect moments but enjoy the small moments that are all around us together. It makes a difference. When more and more people are feeling lonely in spite of being more connected; let’s have Dads step up and make an effort to simply be with their children in a way only they can be.
Dave Drabiuk is head of the Men's Program at the Belleville Pregnancy and Family Care Centre. All men are welcome to meet with Dave on Wednesdays. Men's Program runs 4pm-5:30pm every Wednesday. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.