When one becomes a father it’s implied that servitude is mandatory. The gamut of demands is boundless yet necessary, as young children lack the skill sets vital to fend for themselves. However, what happens once they’ve gotten older and you find yourself still at their beck and call. How do we then break free from our role as “butler-dad”?
My Life as a “Butler-Dad”
I admit, with certainty, that I am guilty of “pampered parenting“. When Miles was a mere infant, I became both purposely and subconsciously conditioned to promptly attend to his every whim. From butt-wipings to the cutting of food into morsel sizes, I hastily served without hesitation. Fast forward to his toddler years and the not so distant past, a whole lot hadn’t changed. I was a bowtie and cummerbund shy of being his personal fucking steward, before realizing the grave disservice I was bestowing onto him.
Breaking the Cycle of Servitude
During my son’s transition into elementary school (and the subsequent years to follow), I began to notice the true harm in my blind obedience… His lack of initiative. As examples – he’d sooner summon the closest parent to fetch him a beverage than grab one himself. Or, wait to be clothed most mornings as opposed to simply getting dressed. He was becoming the petulant prince we hadn’t anticipated. And, this did not sit well with either his mother nor me. We’d recognized that though tending to him was initially intended as assistance. It had now grown into an expectation. Our runted ruler was in desperate need of some responsibilities.
Helping Our Kids to Help Themselves
Be warned, introducing daily tasks to children can be rather unnerving (mainly to them), at first. But, the greater lessons associated with such a decision outweighs any preliminary hardships. We started Miles off with simple chores i.e. tidying up toys, putting away dishes, helping with laundry, etc. By having him perform basic housework, we’ve given him a first-hand perspective of the required maintenance of our household. Not as an overlord, but as a participant. We hope that in aiding us through our collective family effort. He then learns to help himself in circumstances where he is able to so. Thus, untethering his reliance to the master/servant dynamic he had grown accustomed to.
Although it should be assumed, that as fathers, we’re forever at the mercy of our children’s needs. But, through guidance, hard work, and some fortitude, we can also ensure our kids can do for themselves come time to. Dare to dream.