Men: You Can Decide to Decide About FatherhoodNov 01, 2016
I’ve worked with so many of you over the years, but I still feel sad when you say, “It doesn’t matter to me.” Or “I can go either way.” Or “Whatever my partner wants will work for me.”
This is your life. You deserve to take ownership of your decision to be a parent. Ask yourself where this neutrality comes from, and you’ll discover that it’s a learned behavior from your own childhood. I suspect your father appeared neutral—somewhat unemotional, flat—when you were young. Notice I use the word appear. Usually, parents love their children very much, but sometimes they can’t express that love because of the hurts they themselves suffered as children. If your needs weren’t met as a child because your parents’ needs weren’t met as children, this repetition perpetuates a constant state of indifference
When it comes time for the child to enter into the decision to be a father, he has not been prepared for the resolve required in making this transformative determination. As children, we model the adults in our lives. We imitate our fathers because it’s easier to remain noncommittal in a society that teaches its young men to hide their emotions. And if you are expert in apathy, how can you expect to get close to your own children? If you can’t show your son that you love him, how will he feel in the relationship? Unimportant is a good guess. Just like you, he will feel he doesn’t matter. So a self-fulfilling prophecy ensues.
But you can break the cycle! I’ve worked with men for over twenty-five years and helped them enter into the decision-making process. Even when men know they’re going to choose fatherhood but lack the energy and the emotion behind this decision, they’re eager to know where their unconcern stems from. I’ve helped these men understand why they don’t feel as excited as the other fathers seem to be, and out of this newfound awareness bursts the potential for becoming an exceptional parent.
The good news is it’s not too late to do the work that will help you feel excited about becoming a father if that’s your choice. By working through some of your personal issues, you can learn how to connect to your own children.
Remember: Choosing not to parent is also an option. The key is making an informed choice instead of letting someone else make it for you. You deserve to feel excited about any decision you make, and that excitement is a wonderful feeling. Make it happen! Take the time to discover what’s true for you.
With deep respect,