The Challenges as a Dad
The first thing that may come to mind as a challenge is time. Time never stops. It doesn’t stop to put aside your occupation. It doesn’t stop ticking as your children grow older. It doesn’t stop to allow extra time for hobbies, sports, or friends. And since time does not stop, then it has to be managed and prioritized. In general, what you spend the most time on is your priority. If you attempt to manage your time in a purposeful manner, you may find you need to change your priorities.
As an advocate for more and better fathering, I would hope you place much emphasis on caring and mentoring your children. Mind you, the best fathers may not spend the most time with their kids, but they do spend quality time with them. Some occupations, like over-the-road truck drivers or military personnel, make it difficult to spend time with their families. Other occupations make spending time with family a difficult decision when competing for higher pay or positions. Only you can decide, but decide knowing all the pluses and minuses. (Hint: what will you be thinking about in your deathbed?)
Other fatherly challenges I discuss are fear, personality, discipline, image, risks and consequences. All, or some of these, affect every man and how they father. The men that overcome these challenges usually have mentors--hopefully, their own fathers; and they are not afraid to ask questions. These challenges, however, can be a Mt. Everest to young fathers who were not raised by good men themselves.
The Challenges of Being a Kid
In my opinion, the biggest challenge for kids is fear, and sometimes the lack of fear. For children, it’s natural to sometimes be afraid, and those fears that are rational help protect them. True, some kids appear to have no fear, but it’s often a lack of respect for situations that can put them in danger or get them into trouble. This is where a dad can help his child. There are so many things of which to be afraid. The dark, bullies, worms, whatever. Help them face irrational fears so that they can conquer them.
As I say in my book, “Caution befriends the adventurous and betrays the meek”. Every child needs to learn about the dangers around them. Traffic is one of the most common dangers, but there are many. There are some kids, however, that have no fear of obvious dangerous situations. They will jump off a garage with a cape (towel) around their neck. They will go too far into deep water. They will throw rocks at each other.
Yes, fear and lack of fear are significant challenges of being a kid. But of course there are many more. Many kids lack confidence and must be given opportunities to learn it. Lack of confidence can lead into peer pressure which will take our children into directions we do not want to see them take. Dads can help build confidence in their kids in obvious and subtle ways.
Kids’ attitudes, their manners, paying attention, fitting in, are all learning challenges that can, and likely will take wrong turns without good, nurturing parents.
The Challenges of the Family
The core family, the basic sociological unit, is in big trouble. In 2010 single parents accounted for around 27% of family households with children under the age of 18, and 80% of those households were headed by women. For black children the single parent figure is 52% and these numbers are growing. That’s another story told excellently in “The Turning”, by Richard and Linda Eyre. The challenges I discuss in my book also happen in functioning two-parent homes.
As I said, a family is the basic social unit. A family must act as a team, have defined yet flexible roles, and treat each other with respect. There are many challenges and one of the most important is communication. From my book,
“Different parental roles require coordination. No one can read another person’s mind. If parents have bad communication habits, these can be especially hurtful to your children. Poor communication habits can cause assumptions, and assumptions can cause grave mistakes. Misunderstandings can grow into faultfinding. Soon your family system is not functioning well, and no one, most of all the children, can be at ease.”
Outside influences and how they are dealt with are always a challenge to the family. Tolerance within and outside the family is also a challenge. Is your family very diverse? Are they cooperative? There are so many questions, so many possibilities, and so many ways to deal with things. When families can properly deal with all these challenges, they and their children can be very successful. When many families can do this, then society will be much more successful.
So we see how complicated parenting can be. Just when you think you’ve got it together as you enter Dadhood, you realize your kids have problems, fears, and obstacles. And while you and your wife work on those issues, you find you both have different ideas on how to approach them. Meanwhile, TV, movies, social media, schools, friends, grandparents, etc. all inject ideas into the realm of your family. Good luck! There are many challenges, but NEVER give up the fight for your values and your children.
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