Father of 1
At the beginning of the year, I committed to a “one word goal.” The one word goal is an alternative to new years resolutions. The idea is that when you choose a single word, you have greater clarity and focus on your goals. My word is - connected.
As I began thinking about how I want to be better connected with my physical/spiritual self, friends and family, I assessed my connection with my nine-year old son, Dylan.
As a single father, I tend to spend most of my time curating my son’s life and making sure he is in place for all of his obligations. Up, dressed, and out the door for school on time. After school, making sure he has everything for karate, soccer, Cub Scouts, homework and special projects. The shuttling between activities provides numerous interactions but does not necessarily facilitate a deeper connection between us. Most of the time, I am delivering him to a place or activity, instead of actively co-experiencing the events with him. I realized that due to the frenzied pace of parenting, the pendulum has swung definitively on the care-giving side of parenting and not so much on the connected,
co-experiencing life side.
As I reflected, I thought about the times that I felt most connected with Dylan. Last year, we incorporated Saturday Morning Bedside Chats. Every Saturday, while I am still in bed, my son comes into my room and sits on the bed to talk with me about school, friendships, challenges, aspirations and whatever is on his mind. When we first began the chats, it was clear that Dylan looked at the talks as an unpleasant delay to his playing and cartoon viewing. Initially, I told him that he had to answer five questions or share five items before he could proceed with his day. He would rush through answers. “My friends are fine, schools if fine, I am fine”, etc. However, one morning he came to my room, asked how I was doing and how I rested and without prompting shared the highlights of his week. He told me about how he and one of his friends overcame a misunderstanding and are great friends now, how he dislikes a particular teacher’s aide, and how he has learned the importance of overcoming negative self-thinking. I was amazed by his maturity and willingness to share substantive details of his life.
This most recent Saturday Morning Bedside Chat reinforced for me that being connected is a two-way endeavor. Some of the best conversations that I have had with my son have been while driving in the car. I discovered that children feel more comfortable talking and asking difficult questions when they are not facing you and do not have to make direct eye contact. I have talked about my experiences with love, intimacy, emotions and lessons-learned with my son, all while he was strapped in the back seat. From the comfort of the backseat, he felt comfortable asking me private questions that he would not normally ask.
I will continue to utilize my current strategies and will seek new ways to enhance my connection with my son during my year of being connected. I am looking forward to the ways in which I will grow as a parent and Dylan and I will grow as a family by the end of this year simply by focusing on one word – connected.