It is always interesting for me when I look at how I am as a Dad and it is even more interesting when I look at how the little boy in me (Little Adrian) reacts and acts when I am being either a great Dad or a not so great Dad. Having six children from the blended family that I have created I do have my challenges on how to be this great Dad that I expect of myself and am aware of the inner child in me that has to also with with this journey. Little Adrian feels safe and secure when I am in a ‘great Dad’ space and gets scared and confused when I am not as it brings up memories of when I was a child and my own father was not so great. We had many great moments, but these memories and feelings are often not as prominent for Little Adrian when I am in a not great Dad space.
Having just moved through a somewhat challenging time with one of my children and dealing with the emotions and feelings that were attached to that, it has been a wonderful opportunity for me to ‘look at me’ and to look at how I am as a Dad. Apart from being a Mother, I believe that being a Dad is probably one of the most challenging jobs on the planet. Given that, it is also the most rewarding. I know that the rewards that I have received far outweigh the challenges and continue to be so.
So, what is it to be a great Dad?
For me there are a few ways to determine what it is that constitutes being a great Dad. First and foremost it is to stand by and watch and love and support my children in whatever it is that they choose to do with their lives – even if it is challenging to watch and see them ‘making mistakes.’ As we know when we are true with this, it is often through our ‘mistakes’ that we get the most learning. Watching my children make their ‘mistakes’ is a challenge and sometime I really just want to rescue them and tuck them up in my arms – even if some of them are over 6 feet tall!
Standing back is not always easy and it takes much courage and discipline to stay out of their experiences. Knowing when to step in and when not too is always going to be a controversial issue – especially between the children and the parents. My policy is that if my children are in a high danger situation or are in a position where they may endanger someone else, then I step in.
As I was a wild youth myself – and having experienced ‘walking the wild side’, I am often caught in a flux by knowing what that wild side is and being scared that my children might get caught up and stuck in it on the one hand, and knowing that I came through it with many good life lessons on the other. Somehow it all seemed okay for me to have experienced this but part of me is scared for my own children. Learning to deal with this has been a challenge. My eldest son spent a couple of years deployed overseas with the Australian army in Afghanistan and Iraq – now that was quite a challenge on many levels – and I know that some of the others have dabbled with drugs and alcohol and that also was scary for me – as I know the bad side effects of both.
So, back to being a great Dad and what it is that makes me/us able to claim that we are one. Being the ‘Loving Brick Wall’ for me is an essential part of being a great Dad. Being the last bastion of strength when they try to push the boundaries is a role that I take on with my family. I strongly believe that at some point there has to be someone – The Dad in this case – who stands strong and solid and teaches children that NO means NO and that somethings are no go zones. I have clear boundaries with some of these things and the children have learned that my NO means NO – it is not a MAYBE. This is not always an easy position to hold, but I find that the alternative is having children that grow up not knowing what a strong boundary is – and the consequences of this are all to apparent when we see and experience children who have not had this in their lives. The analogy that I use is – If I do not teach my children that a red traffic light means stop – I put them and others in danger. They have to learn when it is time to go and time to stop and I see it as my role as being the one to sometimes be that red light.
As we, my wife and I, say to our children when challenged with a situation of letting them have or do something that we feel is not in their highest interest to receive, ” we feel that by supporting that we are not showing our love for you – by supporting that we are actually saying we don’t care – and we do”.
So, to all the Dad’s out there – well done if you are stepping up to being a great Dad – it’s not always easy!
Get in the kitchen – and get baking – and create ‘The Great Dad Cake’
Ingredients: 3 eggs, 150 grams of sugar, 200 grams of self-raising flour, 150 grams of butter, 50 grams of grated dark chocolate, 30 grams of cocoa powder, few drops of vanilla essence, juice of one orange, grated orange rind, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 100ml of milk.
Method: Mix 150 grams of softened butter with the sugar and eggs and beat until creamy. Add grated chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla essence, cocoa powder and flour and milk into a bowl and mix until creamy and smooth.
The icing mixture is made with 75 grams of icing sugar, 50 grams of butter, a few drops of vanilla essence, a couple of squares of dark chocolate finely grated and 20 grams of cocoa powder. Mix it all together until smooth and creamy. Add to top and middle of cake after cake is cool. (You will have to cut the cake in half to add mixture to middle!).
To bake: Put cake mixture into a greased or lined cake tin (approx 20cms wide) and bake for approx 33-45 minutes at approx 190 C. All ovens are different so adapt to how yours works for you.
For more info on Adrian’s men’s work go to: http://www.EmpoweringMen.org