Becoming A More Affectionate Father
This article was originally published on the Good Men Project on 26 September 2015.
I didn’t talk to Victoria as an infant. I read stories to her from the day she was born but I went about the rest of our day silently. I think she was two or three months when I realized how quiet I was with her.
I was reading about childhood language development when it hit me. Children hear our conversations and learn how to speak from them. I wasn’t doing her vocal development any favours by keeping silent.
And how many times had I told her that I loved her? I was infatuated with her, watching in awe as she reached out and discovered her surroundings. I remember thinking that of course she must sense it and realize how much I love her. Couldn’t she feel it in every look, every touch? But what child doesn’t want to be told they are loved? That needs it to be spoken aloud?
What was holding me back? A fear of looking stupid for talking to an infant? Who cares? I was already talking to my cats. What was so different with a baby? I stand by the fact that the cats have their own personalities, so it helped when I realized Victoria did too.
So I got over it. I would narrate our day. I would explain what I was doing, why I was changing her diaper, and name all the things she could see.
Things are different with my son. I’ve talked to Edward from day one, out loud, without caring if someone heard me.
It was much the same with the way I played with Victoria. I showed her affection. I held her, hugged her, and kissed her. But with Edward we’ve cuddled and played from an earlier age.
I watched how Jen would kiss Victoria’s neck and tickle as she giggled and tried to kiss back. I didn’t play with her like that. I like to hope that she enjoyed the way I played too.
Now with Edward things are different. I’m less uptight I guess. I’m more confident when playing with my son. I love hearing him giggle. It’s not just something mothers do. Fathers are allowed to be just as affectionate. There is no reason to hold back.
I can’t help but feel like I’m being a better father to Edward than I was to Victoria at that age. That I’m more openly affectionate now because he’s a boy, so I must love him more.
But maybe it’s not that I’m treating Edward better because he’s my son. Maybe it’s that Victoria has taught me to be a better father, a better man. And it’s something that she and her brother will benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Photo: Flickr/ macinate