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What about me dad ? – Fathering your inner boy

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What about me dad ? – Fathering your inner boy.

I believe one of the keys to being a good father is to know and look after the inner boy inside the man. This isn’t a licence to regress to a childhood state at the expense of family, partners and your real children. Rather it is an awareness that there is a child inside each of us, and failure to parent and look after that child can often result in behaviours that adversely Impact the important people in our life.

The most common example of this I have observed occurs when I feel hurt by something my sons have done. In these situations my inner boy becomes sad and this quickly turns to anger. Rather than dealing with this initial hurt, sometimes I decide I will get even by punishing my sons in a way that is beyond what the reasonable consequences of their actions are. They feel hurt, unsafe and abandoned, and I will often feel stupid and upset with myself later when I reflect on my behaviour.

In looking at my inner boy he is young and his resources are limited in how to respond. If I don’t look after him he feels abandoned and lonely. Often he trys to get my attention through tantrums as he can’t see any other way to get through to me. When, as an adult, I act on these tantrums my behaviour is unlikely to be appropriate. Again, I can pretend and rationalise my behaviour, but somewhere inside I know this isn’t the truth.

If instead I choose to parent him, I can notice when he is angry and sad. Just like for my boys, I can comfort and assure him that his feelings are ok and be there for him. Equally important, I find when I do this I can then be available to respond to the situation as an adult. When I do this my sons feel safe and secure, and they get to see modelled how an adult can respond. This increases their options in dealing with their own hurt and anger.

For those who aren’t yet fathers, this works equally well, when responding to those close to you such as your partner. Responding in this way means you are owning your own space and allowing them to own their space. This is another very important topic that I will cover in another blog.

I don’t want to minimse how difficult it can be to parent ourselves. Many of us finished childhood with a lot of unresolved business and possibly don’t feel we have emotionally transitioned into adulthood. We may find our inner child is very sensitive and is often sad, lonely, scared etc. We may not have connected with this for many years. If this space is too traumatic I urge you to approach this child with the assistance of a trusted profession such as a psychologist or a counsellor. Doing this without help for some can be very dangerous. Seeking help further validates and honours your desire to help your inner child.

In conclusion, on behalf of your inner boy, I ask you to find and connect with him. He has always been there, always will and wants you. He may be difficult, stubborn , angry but he needs you. I assure your investment in building this connection will be returned manyfold in your own self esteem and sense of calmness, as well as the quality of relaitonships your build with your own children, partner and family.

Scott Carroll is a qualified and accredited Counsellor focussing on working with men and on male related issues. He is practicing in the Central Coast . He is available for telephone consults and appointments on week nights and Saturday mornings. Please call 0433 119 103 or e-mail to make a time if there are aspects of your life on which you would like his support to work on.

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