His relationship with his own dad.
Fatherhood is an initiation into life-altering relationships. No matter how much parents and grandparents warn us about the changes to come, we don’t truly understand the impact of becoming a dad until it happens. It’s as if we’re looking up at the rope hoisting a grand piano as it fails, thinking, “I wonder if that’s going to hurt?”
The most important relationship for a new dad, however, isn’t the one with his child. It isn’t even the partnership with his spouse or significant other.
The must crucial fatherhood relationship is with his own dad.
One of the first decisions I made upon learning of my wife’s pregnancy was to sell my fast, sexy Nissan Twin Turbo for a family-friendly car. It was a sensible decision, but practicality wasn’t my primary motivation. I wanted to prove that I would, unlike my dad, fully embrace the responsibilities of fatherhood from day one.
Early parenthood entails snap decisions based on little expertise under the duress of sleep deprivation. If we want to be emotionally present to make those decisions with clarity and confidence, we need to eliminate unnecessary volatility. Our judgment must be unhindered by outside influences.
Our father and his parenting choices have the potential to lord over our experience as a parent. Failure to reconcile our relationship with our dad puts at risk a golden opportunity to let go of an obstacle that keeps us from being totally ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we have to forget what our dad did, it just means we have to forgive it. If we don’t, we’re letting him run the show.
Originally appeared at New Dad for Life.
Photo: technowannabe / flickr