“I have found that having children from two separate marriages can be very difficult. It can be emotionally rending and you can understand why men want to give up. But you’ve got to fight this and get involved. In the end you become very bonded to your children—there is nothing like it.”
—Peter Hillary, Mountaineer
A resurgence is taking place in our world today regarding the task of fathering. It seems clear that certain trends are being highlighted and the need for fathers to step up to the plate and become more engaged with their children is now widely known. I have italicised the word “involved” above, for the pure reason that if we, as fathers, get involved in our children’s lives—I mean, by being interested enough to listen for the intimate details of need in their lives—we will no doubt have opportunities to demonstrate our unconditional love and prove to them how special they are.
Fathering can be seen as a project—one that commences at our children’s conception and is completed in our deaths; where our legacy is left ad infinitum.
As fathers, we have a special duty to perform in the lives of our children, which can be described in the acronym, B.U.S.
1. Being There – Willing, Able, and Emotionally Present
Getting involved is reaching first base in our parenting. When we throw ourselves into the task of involvement, within our children’s daily routines, quickly we realise the value of being there, willing to be there, able to help however we are called to help, and emotionally present for the inevitable problems and opportunities that emerge.
It begins in willingness, is manifest in our ability to help, and is made sure in our emotional capacity to help make our children feel safe through our calm, trusting and respectful demeanour.
2. Unconditional Love – Beyond Judgment for Performance
We could argue that most, if not all, fathers love their kids. But unconditional love is harder. It is an intentional love that gets beyond judgment for performance. It is a love that transcends our children’s behaviour, their academic and sporting performance, their looks, and their beliefs and values.
Unconditional love can never be affected. It is its own rule. A loving father wouldn’t protect his child from the full consequences of life, but he would be there for him or her, no matter what.
3. Special – Making Our Kids Feel Just That
Every child is special, just as every human being is unique and wonderfully made.
Our children need to know this. We need to be intentional about telling them how special they are. We need to say the words. We need to find creative ways of making them feel special. When our kids feel special they feel safe and worthy and are much more likely to be happy in life.
Being a father is just about the most important project any man can undertake. It is a project that consumes his life, from beginning to end. It is a labour of love.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Special acknowledgement to Professor Bruce Robinson: founder of The Fathering Project. The BUS acronym is part of The Fathering Project.