In my last blog (‘What’s best for the child?’), I reflected on the many things that can influence a child’s wellbeing, as highlighted by a recent foster care case in London. Today, my thoughts turn to my own daughter, who is now 22, a fact that makes me feel decidedly ancient! Recently, she has returned from a year working in Thailand as part of her degree course – yep, just like her dad she chose to do a ‘sandwich degree’. Having not seen her face to face for eight months and then having her around these last couple of weeks has particularly highlighted her transition from child to adult, with her own moral compass, her own hopes and fears for this world, and a developing vision for her life path on this planet that she loves so much.
So, what of my role as a father? For sure, my duties have not yet been fully discharged, but for those that I have performed over the last 22 years, how do I score?
- Have I imposed my values, my beliefs, my prejudices on her?
- Or perhaps I’ve encouraged her to find her own values and beliefs by asking lots of open questions, and by sharing my views gently and graciously?
- Or perhaps I’ve done neither, being too disinterested and disengaged in my fatherhood role?
Chances are I’ve probably done a bit of all of these at various times, but I’d like to think I majored in ‘category 2’ and scraped myself a pass mark in my fatherhood exams.
Maybe you’re just starting out on your own fathering education. If so, I don’t doubt that you want to be a great dad to your children. I don’t presume to offer you too much advice, but this I will say: enjoy the ride, because it’s going to be one heck of a rollercoaster, and simply remember to major on ‘category 2’.
As for me, it’s time to get back to my fatherhood studies. After all, she’ll for ever be ‘my little girl’!