How can I be a good dad?

How to be a good parent is something I’ve been asking myself a lot over the past few months. With P-Day (Placement Day, as I’m calling it) approaching very quickly, I find myself thinking a lot about how I can be the best parent possible to my son.

He will have travelled a long way to live with me; he’ll have a new caregiver, a new home, a new support network, a new school, and a new routine. How would I feel if everything in my life changed so dramatically? Out of sorts, nervous, and uncertain of my roots, I would imagine, and I’m 37 years old – an adult who should be able to regulate his emotions in a mature manner. My son is still in single digits; he will view things very differently.

Giving him a secure and safe base is absolutely key; he needs to feel able to claim his home, his family, and his place in the world – in his new surroundings, and that will take time. He will be nervous, anxious, and missing the life he’s left behind, and perhaps a little excited and intrigued as well. I know I will be nervous and excited as well; Am I feeding him well? Am I giving him the love he needs? Am I entertaining him enough? What does too much or not enough look like? Who knows.

“The truth is.” writers Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari in the book Great Parenting, “it isn’t about birthday parties, trips abroad, or shiny new computers, but the small moments – the in-inbetween – that count. In these moments, the magic happens.”

I couldn’t agree more. I’m an average human being, no worse or – it pains me to admit – no better than anyone else. A friend of mine said just today (in the endless “today” of this blog post where I actually sat down and wrote it) that “It’s always terrifying and remains exciting. None of us know what we’re doing, we just try our best!”

I felt strangely reassured by that. But of course it’s true; we’re all first time parents once, and we each have different thoughts about what we’re particularly conscious of; for me, it’s giving him a varied enough diet (as I’m a lazy cook) and getting his creativity really engaged. I’ll figure it out; I’ve survived 37 years, after all.

I was thinking back to my childhood and wondering how much I just took for granted; probably most of it, to be fair. But what did I like the most about my parents? The times where they were “in the moment” with me and when I was aware I was safe, even if I was in a different room – because I felt connected to their consciousness and safe in their presence. That’s what my son deserves – continues to deserve from where he lives in similar circumstances – and what I will strive to give him as a parent.

Will I make mistakes and misjudgements? Yes, of course I will. But I will correct them and get better, because that’s my job. Will I love him? Reader, I already do.

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