Fatherhood is Being There for Your Children
It’s different being a dad.
When you are a mother, you have nine months to get used to the idea. It’s right there in front of you—day in, day out. Motherhood changes your life long before you actually become a mother. You feel your child move before anyone else even sees him.
Fatherhood isn’t like that.
Depending on the relationship, finding out you are going to be a dad, or already are one, can be a bit of a shock. And it really is a measure of the man on how he responds to the news.
In the more traditional mold, mom and dad-to-be have a monogamous, loving relationship. The pregnancy is planned. Both are equally excited about becoming parents. But with 60 percent of couples now choosing to live together before marriage, the long-term stability and general certainty of the more customary form of “fatherhood” has shifted.
Relationships are more casual. More single women are choosing to parent rather than make adoption plans. And except for the issue of child support, it’s really left up to the man just how involved he wants to be with his child. He can send a check and walk away.
Or he can be a father.
Granted, not everyone knows how. Many young men have never had a stable father-figure in their lives—a man they can look up to and show them how it’s done. Many have never had someone toss them in the air to make them laugh or show them how to ride a bike or swing a bat.
For some, the absence of their own father makes them shy away from getting involved when their own children come along—simply because they are paralyzed with fear of not knowing what to do.
For others, becoming a parent is something they are excited about because they are determined not to repeat the mistakes of their own father. They want to be there for their child. They know in their heart that real men play with their children. They roll around with them on the floor, and they toss the ball over and over until, finally, it is the child who is weary, not the man.
Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska operates a “Fatherhood” program within its North Omaha Center for Healthy Families. Here, young teenage fathers find encouragement, guidance, and the kind of peer support that create confidence and courage.
Billy, 25, is engaged to the mother of his four young children. They both work full-time to make ends meet, and it’s a daily struggle. But Billy will tell you that his favorite thing is being with his boys. “I’m a great dad,” he says. “I like watching them grow and learn.” Through the fatherhood program, he has also learned to be an effective disciplinarian. “Now, I know how to show the kids how to do it right, instead of me getting frustrated.”
Which really is the goal, isn’t it? Billy’s three bright boys and his beautiful little girl are growing up with a father who dearly loves them. By his daily actions and his presence, he’s showing his sons how to be a good dad, and he’s showing his daughter what kind of partner she’ll want some day. It’s simply a healthier cycle of family that begins with stepping up to fatherhood.
Happy Father’s Day, Billy. And to all of you awesome dads out there.
Bev Carlson, APR is the Director of Public Relations, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. You can contact Bev with comments or story ideas at email@example.com or 402-978-5646.