The Fatherhood Series: Meet Scott
Meet Scott, a father to seven boys ranging in age from almost 20 to four. Follow along as Scott shares his experiences and insights on parenting a large family of boys.
Our first child was born almost 20 years ago, and since then, we've added a new child to our family every couple of years. Having so many boys is amazing, but it can also be challenging.
Life with seven boys is never dull. There's always something happening, and it's amazing to see the bond my boys share because they're all around the same age.
Parenting is complex and not always straightforward. It's a grey area that requires us to be comfortable with uncertainty. When you become a parent, you're responsible for another human being, which can be overwhelming. So taking it one step at a time and not putting too much pressure on yourself is vital for your well-being.
Why It's Okay to Get Things Wrong
For some reason, there's a notion that parenting should be easy, a wonderful and fantastic experience that should come naturally. But let's be real here; it's far from easy. In fact, parenting is hard, and it's one of the most challenging jobs out there.
As a parent of seven boys, I can attest to this. Parenting isn't just about the fun moments like snuggles and giggles; it's also about the difficult moments, like when your child throws a tantrum, and you're at your wits' end. Unfortunately, these moments are unavoidable, and we're not immune to them as parents.
Over the years, I've made countless mistakes as a parent and continue to make them daily. It's natural to make mistakes because parenting isn't something we can learn from a textbook. Every child is different, and as they grow, their needs change. As a result, it's impossible to know everything and to always make the right decisions.
Sometimes, we react in a way that isn't our best, and that's okay. The key is recognising when we're in the wrong and making things right. Apologising to our children when we make mistakes is important because it teaches them that we're human and that it's okay to make mistakes.
I've learned throughout my parenting journey that it's essential to accept our mistakes and learn from them. We can't expect to be perfect, and that's okay. But, as parents, we need to give ourselves a break and understand that we're doing our best.
As parents, it's natural to want to shield our children from the difficulties and hardships of life. But they need to learn that life can be challenging and that we all have our struggles.
As someone who works in mental health, I have firsthand experience in seeing how difficult life can be for people. And while it may not be easy to talk about these topics with our children, I believe it's crucial to educate them on practical skills and real-life scenarios.
It's important to let them know that they're not immune to tough times and that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Being honest with our children and owning up to our mistakes can be a healthy way to teach them about self-growth and personal development.
We must start this conversation early on and continue to have these discussions with our children as they grow up. We need to make them aware of the challenges they may face in life and equip them with the tools they need to overcome them.
"There is no such thing as the "perfect parent"."
As a new parent, getting caught up in the idea of being a "perfect" parent is easy. You want to ensure that your child has the best of everything and that you're doing everything "right." But what happens when you realise that being a parent isn't always a bed of roses?
That's the situation that I found myself in. I was a young father, just 20 years old, and I had this image in his head of what a perfect parent looked like. So I was trying to live up to society's expectations of what a good parent should be like rather than doing things his own way; you sometimes parent in the way that you think society expects you to, rather than how you want to."
And to make matters worse, we didn't have the support system we thought we would. My wife and I didn't have the "village" that people talk about - that network of friends and family who are there to help you through the ups and downs of parenting. The two of us tried to figure things out as we went along.
But we did figure it out. We learned to be our support system and trust in our instincts regarding parenting.
Our new identity
As parents, we often overlook the relationship we have with ourselves. It's vital to acknowledge that it's not just our connection with our children that matters.
We need to prioritise our relationship with ourselves first. When you become a parent, you're introduced to a whole new version of yourself.
It's a beautiful and scary experience; you're trying to figure things out.
Before parenthood, neither partner existed in that role, so you're both getting to know each other as parents.
The Emotional Struggles
As a parent, all we ever want for our children is their safety, happiness, and well-being. And we would do everything in our power to ensure that. That is why when our children experience difficulties, especially when it comes to school, it becomes a heavy burden on our shoulders. As a father, my journey in homeschooling my son was filled with struggles and emotional hurdles that tested my patience and integrity.
When we started homeschooling, it was not out of choice but out of necessity. My older son had a difficult time in school, further aggravated by bullying. Witnessing his struggles made me feel helpless and, at the same time, ignited my parental instinct to protect him. Thus, we decided to homeschool him to provide him with a safe and supportive learning environment.
At first, everything seemed to be going well, and my son's learning improved. However, as time passed, I realised I needed to build a stronger emotional connection with him. It was difficult because, as a father with a military background, I thought of myself as an impenetrable Captain America-like figure who could shield his family from harm. But my son needed me to be more vulnerable, and I was struggling to open up and connect with him emotionally.
It was during this struggle that I realised the hypocrisy in my actions. I was trying to get my son to open up about his experiences and emotions while, at the same time, keeping my guard up and not letting him into my inner thoughts and feelings. As a result, I felt like a fraud, and I knew I needed to change.
So, I started to work on myself. I let go of my guard and became more open to my son's needs. I worked on my communication skills and tried to understand his emotional needs more. As a result, we began to form a deeper connection, and he started to open up to me about his struggles and how he felt.
Homeschooling is not easy, and it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every family and every child's situation is unique. However, I have learned that the success of homeschooling relies not only on academic performance but also on building emotional connections with our children. It takes effort and vulnerability, but it is worth it.
"Don't compare your movie to somebody else's trailer."
It's easy to get caught up in the expectations set by social media regarding parenting. We scroll through our feeds and see other parents seemingly nailing it with their perfect houses and well-behaved kids. We begin to think that this should be the norm and that we should all effortlessly fit this mould.
But let me tell you something, friend. This isn't reality. Social media only shows us a snippet of someone's life. Their highlight reel, trailer, and best moments are strung together to create the illusion of perfection.
Don't compare your movie to someone else's trailer. Remember that every parent has their own journey and their own challenges to face. It's okay if your house is a mess, if your kid throws tantrums in public if you forget to pack their lunch.
Because being a parent is messy, chaotic, and full of unexpected twists and turns, it's a beautiful and imperfect journey that can't be fully captured in a single photo or post.
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