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My New Fatherhood Mantra

As Father’s Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on the ups and downs of my parenting year under the cloud of chaos that COVID threw us into. This global pandemic pushed all of us to our limits. It changed our lives, our routines, and the way we parent.

Many of us were launched into juggling more responsibilities than we’ve ever had to. We were suddenly faced with the challenges of working from home or job loss, of monetary worries or how to get supplies for our families, of being confined to our homes and getting no break from parenting. Our fatherhood duties also changed abruptly. Before we had a chance to digest the horrific daily news reports, we became our kids’ teachers, playmates, secretaries, tech support, snack servants, emotional compasses, entertainment coordinators, screen schedulers, and in many cases the primary parent who was home with them all day, every day.

At first, it was easy to see the silver lining. I relished in more time with our kids, and I made the best of a situation I had no control over. We baked, we hiked, we read more together, we played board games, watched movies, did crafts, and scheduled video chats with family and friends.

But as many months passed, my role-model fatherhood image became more of an ideal than what was truly being practiced. It became more of a chore to remain positive all the time and seeking out moments of gratitude felt forced. I was less motivated to play the role of the resilient one around my boys. I felt isolated, easily irritated, and I began resenting my husband who was deemed more “essential” than I was. I lost my social gatherings, my check-ins with other adults, and my radio-cranked, 20-minute drive to work. I had no reprieve from my role as a father and I felt immense guilt for wanting to escape and distance myself from my kids. These are my kids, and they need me now more than ever.

Ironically, I became the support others needed and even in my writings I helped spread messages of hope, resilience, and a positive mind set. It’s time for me to pause and take a deep breath. It’s time for me to refocus, take my own advice and practice the words that I preach. So here is my new fatherhood mantra and I encourage all dads out there to say it with me:

I am going to be ok. Not every day will be my finest and I am doing the best that I can right now. I need breaks too and it’s ok to ask for help. I need my kids as much as they need me. My kids give me purpose and we WILL get through this together. I am still learning how to be a good father and they are still learning to be good kids. And most importantly, I am present and that matters – a lot!

To my fellow dads who are doing their very best – Happy Father’s Day!

Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two boys, a special education teacher, and a director of Dad Club London.


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