Fatherhood And The Value of Pushing Past Where You’re At

When I first considered writing about fatherhood, I wasn’t sure what fresh perspective I could bring to the conversation. Still reeling from my recent separation, adjusting to my new life as a single dad and focused on holding all the shards of my life together, I decided that any relationship-related topic was off the table. Except perhaps as a cautionary tale.

My confidence was shattered while scrolling through my social media feed. I could find dozens of people I felt may be better suited to talk about parenting. They were continuously delivering family, fatherhood, relationship and parenting advice on the daily. My knee jerk reaction was to decline the opportunity.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to contribute to this community. So I took time to hone in on my personal motivation for that desire.

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Let me be clear, I’m not a writer; I’m far too painstakingly analytical. It takes me forever to write, revise, rinse, repeat. Any infrequent writing that I do is as a domain expert. Providing technical advice and speaking from a position of comfortable confidence to industry clients with whom I share a working relationship. The thought of writing about a personal topic (like fatherhood!) for an audience of strangers triggered a fair amount of anxiety as I was well outside my comfort zone.

In digesting all these mixed feelings, I realized this process was what I wanted to write about.

My son is a naturally talented and gifted child who excels when he participates in most activities. He has an innate curiosity for nature and love for art, a remarkable amount of emotional intelligence and seemingly boundless energy.

However, sometimes he loses interest when he’s not immediately good at something. If it takes too long or requires too much effort to reach his desired outcome. He wants to return and play the “fun” games he’s already mastered, where he always wins. Instead of pushing through the challenges of learning and mastering a new activity.

As a parent, I often encourage him to stick with these new activities. To enjoy the learning process, as he builds his skill set and pushes his own abilities. His smile when he achieves a goal that he struggled at minutes earlier is all the reward I need. I’m confident that each of these little wins is building his own sense of self-worth and helping him grow as a person. I love watching this evolution within him, each victory padding his intrinsic value and helping shape the man he’ll one day become.

It occurred to me that these same virtues I’ve asked him to embrace had also taken hold of me. I needed to push my own boundaries, despite the discomfort of sharing my thoughts in a space where I feel vulnerable. In doing so, I would be more in line with my personal values. That leading by example and acting as a role model for my son. By espousing my fatherhood values of lifelong learning and personal growth, my encouragement for him would carry more weight for me personally and hopefully resonate better with him.

So here we are. It’s been a minute for you, but over a week since I wrote my first sentence above. I’ve written, revised, removed, replaced and refined my thoughts you’ve just read. In the meantime, I’ve stalled, procrastinated and re-prioritized.

Through the process, I’ve grown a real compassion for how frightening it is to try something new. How raw it feels to put yourself out there, even when the result may fall flat of your objectives. Or how easy it is to retreat back to the comfort of where you’re at and not put yourself out there at all.

There’s an expression “The child is the father of the man”. Which implies the values instilled in us and behaviours of our childhood shape the person we become as an adult. I hope that the virtues I’m trying to extoll are setting my boy on a path for happiness, fulfillment and success, that I am embracing his inherent love and natural gifts while providing the leadership to show that his path requires not only talent but also initiative and dedication.

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