I’m going to cut straight to the point: I see my dad very differently to how I used to, now that I am a dad myself. There’s a lot of lessons in fatherhood that have made me look at how my dad went about it in a different light. As my last post on this amazing blog, it’d be cool for you to share it with the men in your life, just like you have been with the other #ManMonday posts. Consider them collectables and this is number 4.
My dad isn’t perfect
Just like I recently became a first-time dad, I realise that fatherhood was a new experience for my dad and my parents did the best that they could. Things were very different back then as well. That idea of my dad knowing everything and is good with everything goes out the window. By having a kid, your entire outlook on life changes and you have to learn on the go. And every stage is a new learning stage and each stage is difficult in its own way; having a newborn is difficult, having a toddler is difficult, and some things are better while others are worse. It’s a continuous learning curve. Because your kid is always growing up. There are always new things to consider and to worry about, to figure out. So unlike what they told us growing up: dad doesn’t know everything.
Life affected how he parented
I see my dad with Kai and how happy and excited he is about spending time with him. This is completely different to when my brother and I were growing up. And I think a lot of people see there’s a big difference between their relationship with their parents and the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Seeing your parents with your own children is a huge eye-opener to who they are as individuals and you look back and realise how they got affected by everyday life things, particularly when they have kids – a stress they no longer have because they don’t need to worry about that stuff. I don’t think it’s something we even consider growing up, we think – well, that’s just how my parents are. I have few memories of my dad being happy and really enjoying the moment. It happened later on when we were already in our late teens. But when we were young, he was away working a lot, working late or leaving early in the morning – through no fault of his own. He was doing it for us. Now I’m the one thinking about school fees, doctor’s fees, mortgage payments…
How I dad, is different from how my dad did
There’s definitely a difference in parenting styles between myself and my dad. From little things like brushing teeth to what time we went to bed. In those days, it wasn’t such a big deal to stick to a specific routine like we do now. The whole routine thing only came in at a later age, which was considered more normal for the time. Even going to school happened later. It’s interesting to see a generation’s change in approach to parenting. It’s not to say my dad was wrong about everything – just a different approach. I’m much more hands on that my dad ever was – again, different times. It’s considered more acceptable now for men to be. My parents did the whole traditional role thing so I find it hilarious that my dad can now change Kai’s poop-bomb nappy.
What I would and wouldn’t do
I don’t believe in sheltering your kids from everything, because life isn’t like that. They need to be exposed to failing and learn how to deal with it. Rewarding failure leads to a child who’s entitled and they’ll become an adult who can’t cope in the world. If you’re not used to failing, the older you get, the harder it becomes to deal with failing because the level of failure is much higher than when you’re a child. It’s much more difficult to bounce back from it. In my house, when failure happened, it happened. And you had to figure out how to make it better. Fix it. Having Kai makes me think about these things more and how are we going to approach that, knowing that he is going to fail. Sometimes a kick in the face in life is exactly what you need to grow and be better. I’m trying to understand what that balance will be as a father. And it’s something I can only figure out on the fly because it has to be based on what my kid is failing at.
There are some things I know I’ll have to pioneer in my parenting. More conversations on race is a big one. Kai is bi-racial, obviously, so his experience will be completely different to my own growing up. My parents didn’t explicitly talk to us about it. I think there’s some stuff that our parents got away with not talking to us about, which we can’t today. Sex and sexuality is another one. The world at that time was very different. Our world is so connected now, you can’t not talk about these things. Having a few street smarts is important for me to pass on to my kids.
So this is my last post. As Aisha says, womp womp. With that, I wanted to leave my contribution with a little bit of advice. Feel free to take it or leave it; have an older father as a mentor. Just like having a mentor in business, have one on your journey as a dad. Having someone you can trust help to guide you and give a different perspective will come in handy. It can be from books that you read, a religious elder, an older cousin or uncle – it doesn’t have to be your own dad. Even if it’s a woman, that’s also cool. Actually that’s great cos they often have better insights into what was lacking from their lives from their fathers. If you can get solid insights from a woman, listen. Let’s be honest, they’re often more perceptive than us men.
Hopefully, all of these awesome posts have been saved and collected into a digital book that you can share with your man or brother or friend. Like I said at the beginning of this month, we need all the help we can get.
Thanks for reading Aisha & Life fans. Peace.