A Few More Thoughts on Fatherhood
During my first year of medical school I was prompted to write a short post about attachment parenting. It has now been nearly three years since that post was written, and now my son is no longer the quiet little infant, but a wonderfully energetic toddler ever exploring the world. As I re-read the first post, I had flashes of wonderful memories, and then began to contemplate how my son has grown since then.
I think the most amazing part is the close relationship he and I have. Despite the fact that I did not feed him with the bottle, or that he preferred to find comfort at his mother for the first two years, he and I have a spectacularly close relationship. As he continued to grow and began crawling and then walking, eating solids and the like, I began to take as much of an active role as I could. This was not always easy, being in the midst of medical school. As he completed the first year of life, I was still in the classroom, and then as he worked his way through the second year of his life, I found myself working very long hours in the hospitals and clinics around Toledo and beyond. However, I never let this become an excuse for me to not be a father to my son. In fact, I worked extra hard to either finish my work quickly and efficiently (and competently!) in order that I could have time to spend with my wife and son. As my son grew older I was able to do more and more with him and began to teach him what I know. Throughout all of this, both my wife and I made sure to be present for my son and to address his needs as they arose. Those same aspects of attachment parent I wrote about before, continue to be present in different ways. As he became more aware of the world and its dangers, he knew that we would be their for him ready to help and to keep him safe. And as time has gone on, my relationship with him has only grown deeper and stronger.
Today, when my son scrapes his knee or bumps his head, he comes running to daddy so that I can make it better. Usually it is a simple touch or kiss and he is back to his usually happy self. Or when he is not feeling well at night, he calls out for me to make him feel better. Again, a soothing word, a loving touch, and he settles right down. This does not mean his mother cannot or does not sooth him, but as he grows into his role as a young boy, he turns to his father more and more for instruction and guidance. Having created a bond early on, I now hope to only deepen that relationship by continuing to be present for him, to answer his questions about the world and to care for him when he stumbles in his journey.
I very much believe that it is because we have continued to reinforce to my son that we will be there for him, that he has become the little adventurer that he is. He always wants to be outside exploring and playing and he loves people. When he meets people that we introduce him to, it only takes a few moments that he is climbing in their laps or sharing his toys with them. And he absolutely adores children. By immediately attending to his needs as a young child and beyond and being constantly present for him, he has learned to trust us. Through this secure relationship, he now has the freedom to explore the world and meet new people, knowing that we will be their to help him if stumbles or get scared.
The time since my first post has only reinforced the blessing that attachment parenting is. The science is there, the anecdotal experience is there, and it just seems to make sense. Only time will continue to tell if this really works, but as I write this post (wearing my second son in his sling), I know that I will continue to practice attachment parenting and I encourage all of you to consider doing the same.