that it is not exclusive for dads, but for all parents. At the end of the post though, I think you’ll have an understanding of why the right words have been hard to come by.
Dads are supposed to be tough, the leaders of the home, the guardian of the family, the “king of the castle”, insert your own definition here. The point is, for most of us dads, we have a feeling that it is up to us to make it right, to make the lives of our family the best they can possibly be. Am I right guys? Have those thoughts entered your minds from time to time, or always? I think we all know the answer to that question. Well, why is that? Is it because it was a learned trait? Is it because we are as the song goes, we are “Macho, Macho Men”? Whatever your reason, I’m there with you. Even with my lovely, strong willed bride telling me otherwise, I still feel as if it is my responsibility to do everything and anything I can to take care of my family. I recently said, “I would sell my left kidney to get my son into this school” and
I think that most every dad would do just that if it meant a better life for their kids, a better place in this world, a better education, etc.
My story starts just like most dads, the birth of our children is a surreal time in our lives. We watch that life come into this world and know that our world has changed forever but in the best way possible. We hold our child for the first time and for many of us we feel that instant connection, the fathers’ love that says, “I would do anything for this child.”We know we would walk through a wall, jump through fire, anything to make sure he/she is always taken care of. As we watch our child grow, our pride in our child grows. We find ourselves living our lives to better theirs. But there’s something wrong. You know your child is different, you wonder why he’s slow in development, you wonder. You ask yourself, “is this something I did?” “What could I have done differently?” We feel guilt, we doubt ourselves, we feel anger, frustration and at times we just get downright “pissed” that our child has these struggles. Without saying it out loud, we feel hopeless. After all that, we get the diagnosis: autism.
Think back to that time, how did you feel? Lost? More questions than answers? Frustrated? Grief stricken? Did you even truly understand the road ahead for your child?
All of us have probably had all of these feelings from time to time; dads, that includes us. No matter what persona we want to put on, we are not immune to these feelings. The fact is, as dads we often feel like we cannot have those feelings because we need to be strong for our spouse, even stronger for our child. That said, here is the message I have for each and every dad, take time for yourself. There’s an old saying that if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of your family. It’s true, yes, and there are often times where I have to remind myself to try to do that very thing myself. We need our energy to be the advocate for our child, the best advocate that we can be. We need to be involved in our child’s lives to allow for the dreams you had, are achievable. Will they be the same dreams, maybe not, but they are new dreams. We have a responsibility, one given to us by a much higher power, to make our world prepared for our child just as much as we prepare our child for the world. I challenge each and every dad reading this to be the just what these kids need, an advocate, a teacher, a friend, a dad. Be the best dad you can be.