In researching for our soon-to-be published book, Jacqui and I spoke to many mums and dads across the globe. Here are some thoughts, insights and parenting tips from father of three Vaughan Poutawera. He’s been through the ‘early years’ and has come out the other side… Here’s what he had to say:
One thing that helped me was simply accepting the changes that having a baby or young family brings. Embrace and develop the “new” you. There’s no point trying to pretend to yourself and your mates that you’re the same carefree, wild, party loving animal you once were, when all you want to do is go home, see the kids and get an early night. 9 out of 10 mates will happily accept the “new” you and you shouldn’t have to make any excuses.
You may drift apart from one or two old friends, whose lives continue along their own path as yours diverges, so be it, accept it as part of life. You’re still friends right! Friends can accept their friends having young families. Young kids can also open lots of doors to new friendships and fellowships. Accept that your motivations may change and where you once were happy to stay hours late at work, you now want to get home before the kids have gone to bed, just so that you can read them a story before lights go out. It is inevitable that your new responsibilities as a parent will at times compete with your “old” work responsibilities. Juggling these pressures is all part of life. Relax, take a big breath, you’ll figure out a way to make it work best for you.
Also accept that sacrifices need to be made. It is likely that you cannot now continue to work 100+ hours every week, plus train for the ironman, go to the gym five times a week, drink with your buddies on Fridays and Saturdays, have a happy marriage and still be the best Dad in the world. Accept that something has to give. This is part of the big adult world and its big adult choices. Don’t just drop things willy nilly. Dedicate some time to thinking about it. Figure out what there is time for and what there is not. Maybe you catch up with your buddies less often but still regularly, exercise of course, and it’s vitally important you continue to work hard, just have a think about balance a bit more. Life is about choices. You just made one of the biggest, to be a Dad, make the most of it, do the kids proud, lead by example.
Accept that your kids are no better or worse than anyone else’s. Your kids have good and bad skills, traits, behaviours, talents. So do parents. Your child is no more gifted than the neighbours. Let your kids explore their talents in their own way, with your guidance and comforting presence, but not your forceful heavy hand or voice.
(Vaughan Poutawera, married 8 years, 3 kids ages: 2, 4 & 6)