Mindful Fatherhood

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Partly serious toolkit

By Renat Minazhdinov and his trusted friends

A very short intro

My dear reader, I can only guess how much is on your shoulders. Yet you have found time to read the book on fatherhood, so you must be an awesome dude! (do not get me wrong, I am more than happy to have female readers, while the talk is father to father primarily) I know for the fact that pressure is a growing thing in a man’s life. Not only the blood pressure, but it is the one growing too. I am talking about peer pressure, wife’s pressure, parents’ pressure – everyone and everything expect you to be better, to try harder, to do something impossible. And for many cases this pressure is a good thing to have. Except for one thing. Forcing something about fatherhood on your agenda. It is your area or responsibility. No one should get into it with unsolicited advice. Nor your wife, nor your parents, nor your friends, and most of all, nor anyone from the Internet (like myself). While putting some questions to yourself in a kind of system, answering them honestly to yourself and learning about underwater rocks of fatherhood – that is a good thing to do and what’s this book if for. It was written based on the fresh memory of my own fatherhood (ok, that is kind of “survivor bias” and cannot be treated as big enough statistic sample, but…) and was enriched with experiences from my friends from all over the world. An important note to start with – no one in this book is going to speak from the position of The Wisest Father and pretend there is an ultimate truth on the topic. The book should be treated as a list of questions matched with only some options of the answers. If you could share a better answer for a specific question or a best practice – all mindful fathers, who I’m trying to belong to, will say huge thank you.

There are going to be 2 ways you can read this book depending when in your life the link popped up on your screen: a) if you are planning to become a father or b) you already took that responsibility. Word of caution: if you are already on the fatherhood journey, it means there are some decisions has been made and any late thoughts on those decision, even might not be bad, but could be quite useless (thinking about something done 5 mins ago and 15 years ago has the same value – like none – if it is in attempt to change the past, but not the future). So, if you’re on the way to become a father – just keep reading through as is, but if you’re already in that amazing part of your life called fatherhood, you might want to jump to the “Keeping your freedom” chapter right away.

Becoming a father

“Son, we want to see a grandkid!”, “dear, I want a baby!”. Heard it yet? Tell them to chill off. Right now! Fatherhood is the only one thing in your life that will have no “undo” button. Everything else can be fixed and rebuilt (even from a scratch if needed). Having a kid is the only thing that is a solid before-after split of your life. And at the same time, it is a huge boost of everything: you have happiness – it will be multiplied tenfold, but if you have some unsolved issues – those will be multiplied hundred times as well. Allow someone or something to rush you into fatherhood ahead of your own time – you will open Pandora’s box that no one including yourself will be able to close.

I can’t stress enough the message – if you’re in a slightest doubt, don’t even think about becoming a father. Important to note that a showstopper “doubt” is not the one about your readiness or skills (we all have those and clearing them one by one just by going through them), but the doubt in your wish to be a father and some key elements. I will clarify those “key elements” later in a separate chapter (and suggest some not-a-rocket-science checklist to verify your doubts might be valid), but for now let me just show you what can and will go wrong if you won’t listen to yourself.

There is quantifiable number of “went bad” type of scenarios and even smaller number of those, where everyone is happy ever after. I am going to list only those I saw really close in my family as well is in many alternative yet similar variations among my friends.

Scenario/story 1. I love my older brother. He is from the 1st marriage of my dad. My brother is awesome – smart, handsome and super-sporty. The only difference between myself and him (except moms) is the fact our dad was there for me in my childhood and was not there for him. And that was the thing that set our lives on completely separate trajectories. But what is important here – is my dad’s perspective though. He regrets and will regret till the end of his life that he could not do for my brother everything than he has done for me. He made a hard choice to build a new life and a new family but remember there is no “undo” button. My father is living with this now. And it is hard.

Scenario/story 2. Another relative from an older generation and his two kids. His marriage turned into living hell for reasons I really do not know. What I do know is that he, driven by the same absence of “undo” button, stayed in the family and made sure he lived for the kids. The result is arguably worse than in case of my dad. What he got is regrets of life went by, while he tolerated rather enjoyed it. Worst part is that the kids absorbed the model as “normal”. They had nothing better to absorb. That father made a hard choice to stay and lives with this now. And it is hard.

Scenario 3 (and hopefully the story for you and me). The only viable way to be a good father – is to be a happy father. It becomes possible if you ensure and prove it to yourself that you are happy and content before you take a no-undo step into fatherhood.

I was planning to write this book for a long time. With the idea to give a chance to my own kids to not repeat mistakes I did. Noble cause, isn’t it? But when I came to writing it hit me again: a) how the hell I tell the story if my very own (very smart!) dad was trying to convey the very same message to me and failed? b) how I can make it less emotional, but rational? c) where do I even start?

So, I let my mathematics and technical background to take over: define few things upfront, bring a hypothesis that I believe in (and currently testing), build a step-by-step evidence. You are more than welcome to find a flaw in every piece of the content below, disagree with me and suggest a better way – I am more than keen to listen and to improve both – the book and my own life.

Brief overview what is coming:

1. Father’s mission: in Darwin’s view and contemporary situation;

2. Growing up to it: what are the things should be in place to start addressing the mission;

3. Perfect match: minimum and required conditions to predict if your spouse is the one;

4. Keeping your freedom: building loosely coupled plan for what comes after.

Your mission
(Darwin’s view)

It is not kind of the book that examines philosophical “why we are here?” type of questions for humanity, while it is an entertaining discussion to have. I’d rather keep it focused on something that up to you us (you and me in our own ways) to decide or at least verify and influence. You may have all the noble goals of self-realization and making a world a better place etc. – it is up to everyone to decide, but no one should ignore Charles R. Darwin and the part of our very own evolution-defined mission. The whole idea of being a father is about passing the best you can pass to the next generation. And if we sum it up, the list is pretty short: you can pass genes and your knowledge.

Let us briefly examine what actually you can pass and what you really can control about it. As for the genes – of course you can control some aspects of it (like making sure you are not drunk like a fish when making a baby and hopefully took basic care about your health before that moment), but that’s really it. You just (happily and with pleasure) give out the genes and hope those will work out in the best way possible. Good news – this way worked for your father and granddad and many ancestors before them. You are the result of this. And based on the fact you came to the moment of thinking about being a father yourself – you got some good genes inside of you. Worth passing them on!

Here comes the difficult part – passing your knowledge and experience. It is difficult exactly because you are in control of this part way more than genes. What is important to pass? Will you have time and skill to really do that? (unlike with genes, where “skills” are embedded in you by mother nature and the time needed… well, not that long technically, if you know what I mean). Arguably, the part with knowledge and experience became more important than genes recently. Just because ability to learn, effectively work in the society and keep your mental and emotional stability are more important skills for success than muscle power, height, and color of eyes (not neglecting a good health in general, of course).

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to mindfully filter, pack and share everything you believe will be beneficial for the baby. Please do not expect me to tell you what those things are and share a clear step by step list – there are plenty of authors trying to shove those lists and tell you exactly what to do: what to teach, what to say, how to behave etc. I am here to tell you precisely (and only) this:


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