There are reasons you tend to think and act certain ways. Understanding those reasons is key to breaking the chain and becoming the dad you want to be. An assessment of the relationship you had – or didn't have – with your dad is an important step on your fathering journey. It'll involve some memories and some soul-searching.
Understanding who you are, and why you are that way, is a critical first step in being a better dad.
Ken Canfield, an expert on fathering, suggests six questions to determine what baggage you're bringing into your role as a dad:
- In reflecting on your relationship to your father or father figure, how would you describe his support of you?
- Did he regularly show you affection?
- Was he present and accessible to you growing up?
- Did he struggle with substance abuse or was he unfaithful to your mother?
- Did he abuse you or another family member?
- Would you say he was a good example?
These questions probe your childhood so you can recognize how your dad has influenced you. His time with you (or lack of time ) and the way he treated you made an impression. Regardless of the specifics of your circumstances, you are a product of your father's parenting.
What did you feel when you read these questions? Was it uncomfortable to go back and think through the good and the bad aspects of your relationship with your dad? Maybe painful? Or perhaps you're one of the few men who have nothing but good memories of your childhood. Your answers will help you assess your fathering DNA.
Let me note here that many men have serious issues that probably need some professional level of counseling. Maybe you endured terrible strife as a child, or it may be that you never knew your dad at all. Perhaps you've got painful wounds from your childhood that will never "just go away," and no amount of reflection and assessment seems to help. If so, I'll suggest you connect with a counselor at a local church, or that you find a licensed Christian counselor who can walk you through the difficulties of your past.