5 Reasons Fatherhood Requires You to G-R-O-W
Whether the diaper bag life chose you or you actively chose the diaper bag life, welcome to fatherhood! It's a wild ride. And even if you're far beyond the diaper changing phase, you can attest to the myriad ways that being a fatherly figure asks that we as men step forward onto the path of growth.
The only constant in life is change and fatherhood is a direct reflection of this. Each day, each moment, each breath gives us an opportunity to either embrace the changes that are coming or we may find ourselves resisting change and feeling the weight of our stubbornness.
The only constant in life is change and fatherhood is a direct reflection of this.
Sometimes in life what inspires us to grow is often a force from outside of ourselves. Perhaps we're feeling unsatisfied in our work and so we seek to explore a new career path. Or, we enter into a new relationship and it inspires us to finally work on our stuff. The transition from bachelor to leader of a family is the noblest and most necessary circumstance for getting on the growth train.
The transition from bachelor to leader of a family is the noblest and most necessary circumstance for getting on the growth train.
To bring this to life, here are 5 concrete reasons fatherhood requires you to grow and something tangible you can do today related to each.
1. It's no longer about you. When you were still just a dude and not yet a dad dude, you could get by being pretty selfish. The dishes could sit overnight, the laundry didn't need folding, and you could wait till an hour before your trip to the airport to pack your travel bag. Not anymore my man. You can grow each day by taking inspired action because you know it's going to positively impact others - your partner, your child, a random bypasser. Take care of whatever shows up in your world with swift, clear action. Don't wait.
2. It makes you reflect on the fathering you received. We can only teach what we know. So if you're at the juncture of fatherhood and you're not feeling equipped to give proper guidance, take a moment to reflect on what you were given from your father figure. If there's a gap between what you were given and what you yearn to give, that's a great place to start your growth journey. Reading a book, or this post, can be a good start. But perhaps a dad's group or fathering course could point you in a direction that gives you the confidence to be the dad you wish you had.
3. Your domain of responsibility expands.
And so your ability to respond needs to expand as well. If you're still finding yourself being petty or reactive with your partner, your child, or even your pet, it's a good sign that you've got some growing to do. Breathwork, meditation, and other mindfulness practices can help you to build resilience in your nervous system so that you're responding to life, vs. reacting to it. In doing so, you increase your ability to respond and you can be the healthy father figure owning your expanded domain.
4. Your capacity to be present is put to the test.
A crying baby or tantruming toddler makes every cell in your body squirm. You reach for your phone, you look towards the door, anything to exit the situation without thinking twice. Except guess what, your little one needs you to be there. Your partner likely needs your support in a major way. Your presence is no longer a nice-to-have, it's a requirement. Be there. Breathe there. Show up, lean in, and take a step towards the scene versus the way you used to Irish goodbye and make a full send departure.
5. You are leading by example.
Whether you like it or not, the little ones not only look up to you, but they look to you to lead. They track, follow, and mimic your movements and behaviors. Regardless of the words you say, it's your being that is setting the example. Remaining stagnant, having your head down in your phone, tuning out from an interaction are not ways to lead by example. You have an opportunity, then, to set a positive example. You can do so by moving with intentionality, practicing being aware of your surroundings, and embodying a healthy expression that will invite your little family to do the same.
So, check in, where are you at in each of these areas? If there's resistance as you read through one or more, that's an invitation to embrace that growth area. If you're already well on your way, keep showing up. In short order your partner will take notice and the little ones that look up to you will respond differently to you too. But it's got to start with you, papa.