Because I write about parenting, people often ask me for advice. I’m no parenting expert, but I try to use my experiences to help others. Most of the questions I get are fairly typical: “How do I deal with my teenager?” or “What are some effective discipline techniques?” I can address these questions because I’ve dealt with them in my personal life. But sometimes, I get a question that requires deep consideration.
A few days ago, I opened my e-mail to find this message from a reader.
“I enjoy reading your articles, and I hoped they would help me. However, I simply don’t enjoy being a dad. In fact, I’m miserable. What can I do to make fatherhood more enjoyable?’
I was taken aback at first. I love being a dad and I couldn’t fathom someone’s not enjoying it as much as I do. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wasn’t always comfortable with fatherhood.
When my daughter was born, I expected to feel a wave of joy and excitement. I was disappointed when I held her for the first time and I felt nothing – no fireworks, no angels singing, no euphoria. I would have felt better if I felt fear or dread, but the feeling of emptiness was a bit disconcerting. It took a few weeks before I made a genuine, heartfelt connection with my daughter.
I’m sure that many dads have had these feelings from time to time, but they are reluctant to voice them because they fear condemnation and judgment. Fatherhood can be hard. There are times when we doubt our abilities. There are times when we feel as if we aren’t getting through to our kids. There are even times when we question our emotions. I believe these feeling are common and there’s no need to feel guilty about them.
I wish I could give the reader some specific advice on how to make fatherhood more enjoyable, but all I can do is let him know that he’s not alone. Fatherhood is not something that comes natural. Some guys are better suited to be dads than others. However, all men have the ability to be good dads. You may not always enjoy all aspects of fatherhood every day, but when you experience those special moments with your child that fill your heart with delight, you will start to embrace and enjoy your role as a dad.