Early in my fatherhood journey, I created an effective cover story => the need to generate cash for the family.
My cover story was a socially acceptable justification for being away from my family.
As additional kids arrived, and I watched my wife deal with the day-to-day, it became obvious that my avoidance strategy would not take my life where I wanted it to go.
I have a quirk => I “see” and “feel” the risk of future regret.
Due to my quirk, I will usually choose the path of least regret, regardless of short-term pain.
My thinking went like this… having been through one divorce, is my avoidance strategy moving my marriage towards where I would like it to go?
And this… you know, my friends tell me that parents have very little impact on their kids, even if that’s true… Do I want to spend the last twenty years of my life wondering if the kids would have had a better outcome with me around?
Once I re-framed, the choice was obvious.
Time to do a better job at home.
However, at that point, mourning for my past life set in.
It lasted for five years!
A key parenting principle:
if you show interest in something I enjoy then I will reward you with time and attention
In offering myself to my family, I seek to offer my best self:
- We do it their way – their speed – their level of competence.
- I don’t teach, coach or instruct. We simply spend time together.
- We do the activity one-on-one.
My primary goal is to establish the link between:
- fun – Dad – camping
- fun – Dad – skiing
- fun – Dad – biking
- fun – Dad – hiking
No agenda with regard to pace, duration and difficulty. No agenda!
Keep the trip short. The pictures in this blog are from an 18-hour mid-week camping trip. As another example, our youngest has precious memories of skiing with me => initially, the skiing took less time than the driving!
Train before the training. The world gets a better version of me if I’ve done a workout first.
So if you’re feeling bummed, or avoiding life altogether, then get out of the house and start making the association between fun and what you like to do.
As I tell Axel in the backcountry…
It’s self-rescue or sit down and die.
By the way, if you look deeper then you will see the association of “fun” is really between you and your kid.
…or you and your spouse.