Being the ‘best dad you can be’ is not enough, it simply isn’t. You hear new parents say this all the time before their child’s birth and it is becoming the new modern dads mantra. Instead of striving for mediocrity, strive for greatness.
Being a great dad is not rocket science. First, there are hundreds if not thousands of books and well informed articles that tell us how to do it. We’d have to be illiterate not to be able to get it. Second, being a parent is one of our primary survival instincts. Breeding to propagate our species is the core driving force in our gene code, every gene is oriented to satisfying that single objective. It is true for all species. We focus on surviving just so we can mate and push our species to the next generation. Our genes adapt in order to survive and reproduce. Think about it, without reproduction no species would continue to exist, it’s unarguable science.
So the responsibility of first creating offspring and then caring for it is paramount to a successful species development and expansion. The human species has embraced that strategy with relentless force, like no other species to date. Other species, even bacteria and viruses, survive through massive reproduction efforts, but no species embraces ‘caring’ like the humans. It is one of the primary distinguishing aspects of being human. Elephants, wolves and chimps have varying levels of care for their offspring, but no other species can hold a candle to us humans.
We have the wonderful opportunity today to know much more than our parents and our offspring will know much more than us. This is the cycle that should advance, not the tired and overused “I didn’t have it and I turned out okay, so you will be fine too” mentality. It takes a wish to learn more, to understand better and to provide a different intelligence as the parent. This is a different paradigm than that of many of our previous generations and it should be embraced.
The Parenting Generational Gap – Part 1 –http://wp.me/pXO5l-k9
The Parenting Generational Gap – Part 2 –http://wp.me/pXO5l-kc
This blog post is a continuation of the blog post Adult Attention Struggle in which I discussed the attention level in adult relationships. I left off discussing the theory of ‘over’ attention.
I see many adults sitting at tables not talking, not looking, not paying any attention to each other. Especially older couples. I see young friends talking but looking around or texting at the same time. This relationship dynamic is probably here to stay with all the distractions available to us during practically every waking minute. I can live with this (although not my preference) as long as we connect to our children with true and genuine focus at the very least.
Again I was a little bit uplifted when I witnessed the ‘over’ attention of these two young people and their baby, but it was compelling for me to consider what our adult relationships would be like if we gave them even a part of the attention expressed by table across the sidewalk. I think we can and should treat our relationships more like our children. We should shower them with attention (not constantly) and not just when dramatic or ‘heavy’ events are occurring. Why not pay attention to the person across the table just for the sake of it, a little bit like the young parents at the breakfast cafe?
Certainly bonding would be stronger, connections would be deeper, and opportunities to truly support or help would be revealed. What is the downside in this? Maybe the perceived downside is that it takes too much energy and focus? Something most believe is in short or limited supply and therefore should be reserved for either our children or only serious situations.
This blog post is a continuation of the blog post How Much Attention Is Too Much? in which I review the priority level of a child with a new couple. I left off discussing a story of a couple I was observing in the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon.
The couple wrapped up their conversation and the friends with the dog left. The young mom uttered a half hearted goodbye while she was wrapping up her baby, again without looking up, I shrugged and dismissed most of my ‘judging’ thoughts. I thought too much attention is probably better than too little.
But when they left and I found myself still thinking about this situation. It dawned on me that they didn’t even really look at each other the entire time. They talked to each other without taking their eyes off their baby. I wondered what their short adult relationship may have been like before the baby. Then of course my mind wandered further down that made up mental path and I pondered what it would be like if we all treated our important adult relationships like these two treated their new child. What if we were unconditionally and undistractedly attentive to our partner, brother, sister, mother, father and best friend?
Would it be too much? I think so. But perhaps some of this ‘over’ attention might just be a better thing than what seems to be more of the norm today.
The other day I was sitting at breakfast in a busy outdoor cafe in the pedestrian heavy Pearl District located in Portland, Oregon. This particular restaurant was pet and child friendly and there were many of both scattered about. A particularly young couple and their new baby of about 6 months was sitting across the sidewalk area from us. I began to notice that each of them individually was completely focused on the baby. I generally like this behavior and I particularly like when parents are attentive to the many little things with regard to their children.
As I was watching, another young couple came over with their dog to say hello. The parents looked up momentarily to return the “hello” but in the same breath regained eye contact with their baby while continuing to talk to their friends. I realize having a new baby, especially when young, is a consummate experience and significant focus and attention will be directed towards the new baby, at least in the beginning. But this might have been a bit much, way too soon to judge. I am the first one to compliment parents for whom their children are designated an unconditional priority, however it did feel a little over the top.
In any case my mind thought of all the benefits this child would reap by having such adorning and attentive parents should they maintain this level of focus. Then I also thought what if the parents hovered with too much attention? I’m not certain what outcome would most likely occur down the road, nobody really does. The only thing I know for sure is that our kids should be our priority.