So there I was at age 50, a daddy, holding my little boy, he was just a few days old, as he drank some milk, and I read e-mail, and I looked into his eyes, and I fell in love.
I mean head over heals in love, and I knew what every parent knows about unconditional love.
I was amazed at the intensity of the feeling, and I was and am amazed at the direction my life has taken.
And now he is almost 11, and will be a fifth grader this year, and he has a sister who just turned 5, and I watch them like a hawk to make sure they are safe, from each other, themselves, and the rest of the world.
And I wonder about how I am doing, and I am torn between the demands of self-employment and taking care of their survival needs and their desire for Daddy time, on their schedule.
My son is bright and curious about some things, but does not clean up after himself ever it seems like, and I erupt once in awhile, especially when he lies, and I feel guilty, and worried about his direction and our relationship as a result of those angry interactions.
And other times I am able to make the same kind of interaction playful and still communicate what is necessary to him about his personal and household hygiene.
I usually have the stronger feelings about the angry outbursts, and for this parent, counseling would involve an inventory of successes and failures.
Failures would be those emotion driven out bursts, that are harmful to our relationship.
Successes would be those times when I was playful with him about boundaries.
Successes would be about telling him that I love him, and that I take my job as father very seriously, because his life depends on it, so I will be doing some boundaries and discipline with him, and as much as I would prefer that he be like Peter Pan, he will be crippled without a strong Dad.
And a failure would be not giving him more of Daddy time when he asks for it.
He says, "Do you want to pass the ball, Daddy?", which means play catch, and because of a particular quirk of mine, not to quit working on a creative project in the middle of it, I will say no, and feel guilty, and hope the revenue and promises of future time will make up for it.
Even writing this page gives me a sense of parent counseling. I am working now, and he and a friend and his sister are doing play station and I hear the laughter and the fun times they are having, and now they have gone out to pick strawberries, and it is summer vacation, August and they are doing great.
My son wants to know what I am making for dinner. He has no problem asking to be fed, but when it is time to do dishes, he reports he cannot because no one has shown him how.
I can remedy that last one.
When I am working with my domestic violence clients, I talk a lot about how attachment works and the roles of mom and dad and attachment in the development of the child's brain.
It takes thousands of small, quick (sometimes as frequently as 30 times per minute) attachment behaviors for the child to grow up with a sense of the world as a safe place, and Dad's play a big part in that sense of safety, with their gear shifting, rough house living room floor wrestling.
It only takes one episode of a child perceiving great danger, even death, for the child's brain to be changed forever, to a belief system about the world being a dangerous place.
Is there a tool which helps me stay in an affiliative and cooperative physiology so that I can be prepared for the dewy eyed child who snuggles with me one minute and kicks the kitten in the next minute, so that I do not over react?
The best one I know is HeartMath. Trains me to keep my heart beating at a coherent pace, which keeps me internally content.
An internal contentment is a great place to deliver consequences from, because I do not do that from a place of outrage.
There is a link to the Heartmath suite of tools in the right column.
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