September is National Recovery Month and this week we are shining a spotlight on one of Illuminate’s most impactful programs: Circle of Parents.
I wanted to share some love and support for all of our fathers out there on this Father’s Day. As a stay at home father with two daughters who is married to my best friend, life is good, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard and we’ve got to talk about it more.
About two and a half years ago, Adam Combs, who is now like a brother to me, and I started a couple of parenting groups for fathers in Colorado Springs, CO. In this space we provide support, connection to resources and encouragement for the fathers in our community. We encourage our fathers to try to create a community of trust, where fathers can come in, as they are, and share their accolades or their concerns and struggles in parenting. It’s a place a father can have their confidence built and at the same be vulnerable in our relationships, most importantly those with our own children.
For me, the biggest reason I decided to create this space is because I, myself, struggled with the transition of becoming a stay at home parent. It wasn’t something I thought I would ever be doing or could do. I didn’t have all the answers, no parent does. I questioned myself in many ways and my pride and ego kept telling me that I should be out there working “like a man should”. I guess the way I was raised, and in society, there was a stigma that mothers should stay home, while the father goes out and works hard to earn big money. Well, I figured out quickly that this is hard work and, in fact, the most important – and I love it!
I must say I struggled at first, especially as a combat vet struggling with my own issues. I didn’t struggle with the physical aspect of it, but I struggled with my emotions, identity and insecurities. For some reason, in the beginning, I also had some resentment. See, physically I could always run circles around most people, but to be with my children every single moment of their life and be their life mentor and coach, while holding the fort and myself down, well that takes a special person. It has tested my will and patience, but I have become a whole new person.
Our fathers group has helped me to realize it takes every day intention to be a stay at home parent. It takes so much unconditional love and forgiveness, yet I have also learned that a majority of that forgiveness is for myself! Nothing will ever be perfect in the life of a stay at home parent. Eventually, I had to let that go and realize that there is no way I can do this alone. I need the support of other stay at home fathers, parents and a community to help me get through the harder times. That was especially true during the lock downs from COVID. When they say, “it takes a village”, essentially it doesn’t just apply to our mothers, but it applies to fathers too!
We need each other and building strong, trusting relationships is crucial to any parent, child and community. So fathers, I say to you, it is ok to not have everything figured out all the time and it’s ok to have feelings and let it be known. The answers will come if you open up your circle, invite more people to join you on your journey through parenthood and share what you are going through. This is the greatest father’s day gift you can give to yourself – and your children.
About the Author
Adrian Nunez is a blog contributor helping to illuminate the protective factors in his family’s life by sharing his experiences as a father of two children, military veteran and one of the founding members of the Circle of Parents groups Fathers of Freedom and Circle of Fathers.
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