Teaching Dads - First posted 16th March 2017
Mr Chalmers was one of my favourite teachers at High School, he once asked me, 'what are we here for? What's our purpose?' it was quite a serious question, but it fitted the context. He was that type of guy. One of the few teachers at our school who strode the corridors wearing a chalk stained teacher's cloak. I know that makes me sounds like I'm from a different era. Anyway, the question was a defining moment for me at high school, just a one to one meeting where an adult cared enough about what I thought and wanted to discuss it. I remember looking out the window to the nearby housing estate and saying to him, 'we're here to help one another and to make life better'. Yeah I thought it was a cool reply at the time. Looking back now I believe I was talking about love, but perhaps couldn't bring myself to say 'we're here to love one another'. That's what I believed then, and what I believe now.
Having children has definitely made it easier for me to love, and to talk about love. I still remember how lucky I felt to have a wave of love wash over me as I was handed my son for the first time. Giving love to your children seems like the easiest thing to do, and giving love to one another can also be the easiest thing to do, and of course most rewarding.
Doing the type of work I do, I've come across all types of families, and invariably there are situations where the love has gone from relationships.
Why is it that some of us struggle to love?
Why is it that some dads and mums push back, and walk away from their children and from being a parent? For the sake of clarity, I'm not talking about a situation where a family break up and then one parent is alienated, I'm talking about all those dads and mums out there who are no longer in their child's life through personal choice.
I've always felt that I had to make more of an effort to know my children and for them to know me, as my wife had the obvious physical connection with them first. She carried them, and loved them from the start, and whilst I loved them too, I wasn't with them until their birth.
Do men, and thus dads still struggle with the word love? Are they scared to love? Or is it just my own experience in which my dad, and I struggled to use the word and thus give a name to what was between us. Love was the glue that held me and my family together. I loved my dad, and I'm sure he loved me. We'd never actually say the words to each other (well I did when I knew he didn't have much longer to live), but I felt loved and held by him and my mum.
What can we do as a society to help encourage others to keep their hearts and minds open to love? Well for one we can talk about love with our nearest and dearest and most importantly our children. I believe it's important that men and dads especially find their own way to use the word and display they love they have.
Mr Chalmers never told me why he thought we were here, and I didn't have the foresight to ask him, he gave me space and time to talk about love in a way that suited a teenage boy. I'll always respect him for that. He knew how to speak to young people, how to relate, and perhaps he loved working with young people. Mr Chalmers is no longer with us, but taught us well. He was loved by many and left a strong and lasting legacy on this loving dad.