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, all the while adjusting to 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.” writes 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 concerns; 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 thinking about how much I just took for granted. 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 comfortable 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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