𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗼 𝗕𝘂𝗶𝗹𝗱 𝗮 (𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱) 𝗥𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗮 𝗧𝗼𝗱𝗱𝗹𝗲𝗿
When I grew up, I didn’t see my father very often. He wasn’t really involved in my upbringing. While my father and I get along well today, I wouldn’t say that we are particularly close.
When my wife and I decided to have a child, I knew that I wanted to do things differently. Little did I know about how difficult being a good father is going to be. Our daughter is now almost 2.5 years old, and here are a few things which have helped me and may also help you to connect with your child:
✅ My wife is the number one in my daughter’s life. My daughter often says things like “No daddy, Mama do it”. There were times when I really felt rejected as a father.
If this sounds familiar to you, keep in mind: while you might feel terrible, your partner most likely feels overworked and guilty – it’s not easy for them either.
Talk to your wife. Accept your child’s current needs and feelings. There is nothing wrong with you or your child. It’s part of their development, learning to attach, and become autonomous at the same time. It’s ok, and it will change. Don’t withdraw from your child. Instead:
✅ Be fully present (not only physically), show interest, get involved. My daughter does notice when I am on my phone or dealing with other things in my head. Being fully present is still something that I struggle with, particularly when I am busy or stressed.
Your child does notice if you give him/her your full attention. He/she will feel seen and valued which is the basis for a trusting relationship.
✅ Be patient and be accepting of their feelings and frustrations. If you say “it’s ok, it’s not so bad” you invalidate their feelings.
You do want them to learn that their feelings (and they!) are ok (and not wrong). Acknowledge and name the feeling if you can (e.g., you are sad that Mama isn’t here, right? This really hurt, right?). Give them reassurance, tell them that you are there for them and love them.
✅ Give your child independence. Let them try, let them fail. This is still the biggest challenge for me. I tend to help my daughter too quickly, i.e., I don’t give her enough space to figure it out herself. It’s ok if things don’t work out immediately – this is part of how we all learn. Feeling the thrill of success will allow them to develop self-confidence and become autonomous.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽𝗲𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗮 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗯𝘂𝗶𝗹𝗱 𝗮 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱?