Saturday, June 18, 2016

What will you give to a father on Father’s Day?

Like so many days sets aside as honour to someone, business interests have commercialized Father’s Day. Thankfully it seems limited more toward male attire and accoutrements while mattress sellers have avoided the temptation to sabotage this day also. Nevertheless commercials promote the concept that due regard to fathers should be expressed through the purchase of merchandise. However, I contend, with a sound basis that it is not merchandise that most fathers seek.

First, as an avid patron of yard sales while endeavoring to build my movie collection, I get to see the unused specially packaged gift sets for sale that are offered during the Father’s Day period. Second, as an advisor to litigants in contested child custody cases I hear first hand what parents most want -- additional time with their children. Admittedly, in these custody cases not all are seeking this additional time for the benefit of the child. I use a vetting process that keeps those who are motivated by a desire to deprive the other parent from wasting any more of my time. What remains though is a significant portion who honestly desire to provide more support to and be a greater influence in the lives of their children. They do so without expectation of recompense or notoriety. To them Father’s Day, or respectively Mother’s Day, is an opportunity to enjoy a day with their children set aside specifically for them as recognized by the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines or those of other states.

So when I ask What will you give to a father on Father’s Day? I am addressing not only the children but also the mothers of the children. Certainly some token memento of the day is appropriate from children to fathers as a keepsake for fathers to be reminded of the adoration of their children. That is so long as those are given with sincere appreciation and not out of perfunctory duty or perceived obligation.

So to the mothers I ask what will you give to the father of your children in common? For some it will be more than he is willing or they can persuade him to take. They wish they had one of my litigious fathers seeking more parenting time as the father of their children. Yet others will proclaim to give nothing more than the law allows, or less, and do so only under protest. It is these mothers whom I most want to hear me. [In about 10 months the counterpart fathers are going to get the same lecture]

In cognitive behavioural therapy the goal is to change the actions or reactions that one performs. This is done by altering the cognition -- how one perceives and processes the sensory input received from his or her environment.

Upon understanding the truism that we are where are actions put us the parent who denigrates the other is a bit of an enigma. They certainly don’t like it when other people put them down or denigrate them but they do it to themselves. I hear or read the rants of this type of mother berating the father of her children and calling him every foul name she can extract from the recesses of her mind. I ask, “Why are you so down on yourself. Why do you think you are such a loser?” The quick retort is something to the effect of she is not the loser but he is. This demonstrates a cognitive fallacy.

A cockroach is a cockroach and does what a cockroach does. So when the cockroach gets invited into the home, gets declared the pinnacle of civility, and then doesn’t perform as desired who is to blame? Certainly not the cockroach who was just being himself. If you thought that a cockroach was going to be a great housemate and table guest but then realized such wasn’t so you should just learn from that experience. If you blame the cockroach for the sanitary issues in your home then you are experiencing a cognitive fallacy. The fault is your own but you should not beat yourself up over it for years to come. Oddly enough though parents will do this in regards to the other parent after a relationship dissolves.

Selecting a mate with whom one will bear children is the most important contemplative decision one can ever make. That decision, whether spontaneous or after lengthy consideration, does not come without exhaustive deliberation. For some people that deliberation is nearly totally a process of the subconscious based upon a lifetime of experiences -- intuitive. Others may take a more mindful approach through the use of pros and cons lists, discussion with friends, or discussion with the potential mate. Either way the selection of the person with whom each of us has bore children was a deliberate process that represents the best judgment and decision making skills we possessed at the time.

By denigrating the object of that careful selection process through and ongoing and vociferous process is to challenge one’s own judgment skills. Selecting that parenting partner can be analogous to selecting house paint. This could include going to a paint store, choosing numerous swatches, looking at them on the side of the house during different lighting conditions, and finally selecting one. Once applied to the house if the colour choice doesn’t appear as appealing as had been envisioned it cannot be healthy for one to constantly tell himself or herself what a horrible colour it is. To do so is to say I made a horrible decision, I suck at choosing paint colours, I am a complete moron. The parent who denigrates the other parent is simply reminding himself or herself that he or she is an idiot with a cranial-rectal impaction.

So maybe what you should give to a father this year is a new lens for yourself by which you will view him. One that is more reflective of the positive aspects upon which you had decided he was the best of all. When you do this let the actions from this new cognition and attitude flow. Then you will feel better about yourself, benefit from his reciprocal behaviour and be a better parent for your children.

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©2008, 2016 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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