Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Fathering Project (2016 Term 2 Week 7)

I recently became aware of an organisation that is working on a matter of great significance; that is, aiming to inspire and equip fathers and father figures to engage with their kids. The Fathering Project is a not-for-profit charity led by a team of professionals that aims to help fathers realise how important they are in a child's life. This is not to say that mothers are not important. It is to say that, for a whole host of historical, cultural and 'reality of life' reasons, fathers are often less present and active in the lives of their children.

My first response in hearing of this project was to become defensive. One of the costs of the free flow of information in the digital age is that there are more and more reasons to feel inadequate. I am not sure that I need another group of people to remind me of my shortcomings, particularly in an area that cuts as close to the core of my identity as my fatherhood does. However, when the defensiveness rises I think that I need to build a bridge and get over it! Parenting is too important to be brushed aside by my ego's need to protect itself.

The Fathering Project website has a number of really helpful resources, including the option to sign up for tips and reminders to prompt those of us who are fathers to keep focusing on the matters that matter.

One tip that caught my attention made that point that, painting with a broad brush, dads often show their love for their children through providing for them, and by correcting and trying to improve them. These expressions of love are not to be devalued at all, but we do well to recognise that sometimes our children really crave an affirmation of love and affection. 

A really powerful way to express our love for our children is to put it in words, either spoken or written. A text message, email, note or face to face statement may well go some way to filling your child's emotional tank.

The tip reminded me of the concept of the five love languages as articulated by Dr Gary Chapman. His framework suggests that each of us has a default 'love language' in which we express love and by which we understand ourselves to be loved. The five love languages are: words of affirmation; acts of service; receiving gifts; quality time; and physical touch. While not wanting to suggest that this framework stands on a deeply-tested and validated research-base, it rings intuitively true in my own experience and in the relationships of many others that I observe.

I encourage you to take the time to quickly browse the websites above and to ask the question 'How do I express and receive love?' and 'How does my child express and receive love?' In particular, I encourage the dads to ask themselves, 'Am I speaking to my children in a language that they understand?'

It is no small thing to be a father; it is a wonderful blessing to have a father. Among the core blessings of the Christian faith is the confidence to call God 'our Father'; I hope that this is a confidence that you share.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Tim. Great piece and the websites are definitely worth visiting. God bless Angelo Gatz