The Day After Father’s Day…
I spent this Father’s Day with my daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter. It wasn’t that long ago I was that young dad like my son-in-law just starting off and celebrating my first Father’s Day.
It was in 1985 when I started the Fathers’ Forum programs. I offered classes and workshops for expectant and new dads. I was struggling myself trying to make sense out of what it meant to be a father. And the whole adventure began that has shaped both my life as a man and my career as a Marriage and Family Therapist. My kids were 1 year and 4 year’s old at the time.
I still continue this journey both personally and professionally…it is great to have adult children and have them “off the payroll” and making their way in the world. I can honestly say that all the choices I made to spend time with them and be able to share in their growing up has given me a real feeling of a very special connection with each of them.
I continue to work with young dads and their families, encouraging them to find the best way to make a meaningful family life. A life of caring, shared experiences and a-whole-lot of- fun…a “secure base” for the children to learn how to trust themselves and explore the world, take risks, make mistakes and recover.
As I work with dads in our groups; dad’s trying to find the illusive work/balance routine…watch them struggle with daycare, school choices, family members who can be devise or judgmental. Watching them in the early years deal with the anxieties of money and housing, keeping up friendships and developing a sense of community. With all these many demands and distractions of today’s “modern life” and the lack of any real “family policy” in the USA; each dad and each family often have to find their own personal solution to these personal and public problems.
What helped me were the dads I met along the way, both in the groups I was doing and dads who became my friends from my kids schools and activities and our neighborhood. So now after all these years of being a dad and working with dads…. there are two things I know are important.
One is to be sure to share the journey with other dads. The other is how important our struggles as dads are, not only to be the best dads we can be, but to change the culture of fatherhood in the USA and maybe the world. Then we can know why Father’s Day is meaningful-because we can be a dad who did his best to be there for his children, helped them learn to regulate themselves in the world, feel secure in who they are as an individual and help them know that no matter what “curve-ball” is thrown their way, they have a chance to hit it!…and that is worthy of recognition and celebration!
So the day after Father’s day…must be Grandfather’s Day…