When I began my career as an educator, I spent a lot of time learning about children; how they think, how they learn best, about different growth stages and especially how to connect with them. Since I worked with children professionally, I figured becoming a father was going to be pretty easy- makes sense right?
Unfortunately, things didn't go as smoothly as I had imagined. While I took lamaze classes and read some books on becoming a dad, I didn't understand (and perhaps didn't listen to advice) how tough becoming a parent would be on our relationship. I also didn't understand how tough some of the decisions were to agree on about how to raise our child.
When our daughter came into this world, we placed our full focus on the baby as any devoted parents would. But while we were doing this, there was something else taking place.
During the first year of baby focus, combined with being utterly exhausted, and finding a way to balance working and being a father, there was a slow unraveling of my relationship with my wife which I didn't see as it was occurring.
I thought I was doing everything a dad should do -working hard and then coming home and helping take care of the baby, doing the dishes, laundry,...basically pitching in where I could. But it wasn't enough.
While our focus was on the baby, our relationship grew more and more separate because we were't nurturing it during a very stressful time period. I thought I was doing everything right as a dad and partner, until by the end of the first year, we were barely talking to one another which led to feelings of anger, resentment, etc.
I remember one night sitting in my kitchen after a fight and realizing exactly where we were headed. If things continued on this path, our relationship wouldn't survive and we would be another statistic. Another story of a couple that was once so in love and that didn't make it together.
And my child, like I did, would grow up in a single parent home along with all the pain and sadness that comes with it.
I thought to myself, there has to be another way. This can't be it. I very clearly saw the road ahead, and the question I asked myself was, how can I change this path?
And that's when it hit me. The only thing I had control over was myself. I had to change the way I was doing things.
And so I did! I stopped thinking about all the things I did and started focusing on what I could do to be a more supportive partner. And through the changes I made to myself, we began to grow close again. We began to spend more time together. We started laughing again. And as a result, I'm happy to say over a decade later, we are still going strong.
As an educator, I work with many parents and I can see the affect their relationship has on the children. I see how it affects the child's self-esteem, the friendships they have with other kids, their school work, and more.
It saddens me because I know that many of the parents I meet with share the same journey I did, except they didn't have that "night in the kitchen"and that moment where they turned the lens on themselves. The became another divorce statistic, or stayed together and co-existed, and I see the affect it has on their child.
Then I realized, it doesn't have to be this way. I knew I could help expecting parents and those parents in the first few years of having children. I knew I could help them before they ever had their child prepare for what's to come, so it wouldn't be so painful for them, and they could avoid the divorce road ahead, as well as the impact that has on their child.
Using my personal experience of making it through that storm, I created the 9 step #LegendaryFather Map to help dads and couples, know exactly what they need to do, step by step, so they are ready for the first year of having a child and can make the experience one of fun and pleasure, as opposed to sadness and pain.