What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

Oct 03 | Tony | No Comments |

Let’s face it fellas… Being a father (or stepfather) means spending a lot of time in situations where you just don’t know what to do. Many of us are “fix-it” kind of guys. We see a problem, and we try to solve it. If the grass gets long, we mow it. If a tree is rotting, we get a chain saw and cut it down. A ball is thrown, and we try to hit it. We do something. It is engrained in us throughout our lives: fix, solve, do, conquer, attack, defend, etc.

I come across dads who are hammers that treat each child like a nail. (If this sounds familiar, perhaps you yourself were a nail as a child.) Some dads see children as shrubs to be pruned and manicured to be perfect representations of their own egos and hard work. (See, look what I created! Look what I did.)

Being a good dad means spending a lot of time not knowing what to do and having the courage to rest into it. Good dads learn to hang out and be comfortable in that place of not doing. As a dad, if you are trying to find that place, it is located in that vast “gray” space that exists between all of our black and white thinking. Black and white dads are busy trying to do something – anything – to alleviate the discomfort of not knowing what to do. As a result, they aren’t really present with their kids. These dads are often thinking, “I don’t know what to do, but I gotta do something!”

Gray dads (no pun intended) have figured out ways to rest into that uncomfortable place filled with question marks. It is not easy to be there. It takes courage not to act. Being there is not a sign of weakness. Gray dads are decisive, firm, and clear when they need to be. However, they realize that what is called for most of time is their authentic presence in the room. They have come to know that most of the time there is really nothing that can be fixed, no problem to be solved, and nothing to do per se.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do? Do nothing. Try and become more present. Breathe deep into your own belly. Accept the fact that you don’t know what to do. Find yourself in the room. Look at your child and really try to just be with them. Let them see you – as much as you are able. Try and create connection. It sounds easy – almost clichéd, but it is really quite a challenge because of our inclination to act.

Black and white dads throw up their hands and storm out of the room saying, “Well, if you won’t take my advice, then I am abandoning ship. You deal with it.” This is their opportunity to check out. What I am talking about is just the opposite. If you can move toward this place with your children, you are actually checking in! You are showing up, perhaps for the first time, in an authentic way. If you do, you will surely find yourself on the path toward deepfatherhood.

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