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Fraternal Twin Parenting Concerns
Identity and Your Fraternal Twin For the most part, throughout this article I refer to a fraternal twin in the singular rather than the plural "twins." This is to emphasize the individuality of each twin. Too often twins are defined only by their...

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Interview with A Coach Who Helps Men Become Better Fathers

ďHeís disobeyed me again,Ē Bill fumed as he walked in the door at night. The kitchen was a mess and his teenage son was playing ďGrand Theft Auto: Vice CityĒ on the computer with rap music blaring at 106 dB, known to cause permanent damage in less than 4 minutes, and homework nowhere in sight; all things Bill had fought with his son about before.

Billís heart started pounding and he shook with rage. ďWhy does he defy me?Ē he thought. ďI donít need this tonight.Ē

A hard day at the office can be followed by a hard day at home, and todayís fathers often work 60-70 hours a week.

Nobody said parenting was easy, and many of todayís fathers didnít have much of a role model. Itís likely they had fathers who were distant; providing, but not involved.

If you decide you want to be a better father than you are now, or better than the one you had, where do you begin?

We decided to talk with Fathering Coach, Mark Brandenburg, MA, CPPC, ( http://www.markbrandenburg.com ) a therapist who is now coaching, and specializes in helping men balance the important things in their lives.

SD: ďWhatís new on the fathering scene, Mark? Have things changed?Ē

Mark: In the sense that fathering is always something we can improve on, there are a lot of men whoíd like to but arenít sure where to start. Not feeling close to their own fathers, they arenít sure what it looks like. They go to a baseball game with their Dad, and sit side-by-side and talk about the players and donít even look at one another.

SD: Isnít that how men bond?

Mark: Traditionally yes. Men tend to bond by doing things together, not by talking together or going into depth, and thatís something, but itís not fulfilling.

SD: How so?

Mark: I donít think it satisfies that deep need than children have to be accepted by their fathers. We need to be accepted by our fathers.

SD: How do you show that to a child?

Mark: By spending quality time with your kids. Doing more around the house. Men today want to be better fathers at the same time work demands are higher than ever, so itís a stressful situation.

SD: So if a man wants to become a more effective father, whatís the first thing he should do?

Mark: Start with what I call ďthe conversationĒ. In it you talk to your child about the changes youíd like to make. Perhaps itís about spending more time together. But if you just try to get more involved, your kid is likely to say, ďWhatís going on with you?Ē I recommend my clients say something like, ďIíve not been involved enough and Iím not happy with that and I hope itís okay if we try something different. What do you think?Ē

If you have a previously uninvolved father, youíre going to have some resistant kids who will test you to see if you really mean it. Youíll definitely get some resistance. Change scares a lot of people.

SD: But isnít the client going to change his way of parenting?

Mark: Yes, and thatís why coaching works. Change is never easy. It always involves risk. It takes courage. If a client makes the commitment to change, I can make the process easier, with practical how-to tips and also an understanding of what itís like, because it requires emotional intelligence, too.

SD: So what does getting involved with your kids look like in real life?

Mark: It varies. Talking to them and knowing what their life is about. You have to ask questions. Find out who their friends are. What subjects they like. Basic things. I had one client, gosh he knew everything. Current events, sports scores, all the emperors of Rome, two languages, but he didnít know the


name of his sonís best friend. He didnít know what his daughter liked to eat.

SD: So where do you start?

Mark: Spend some time and get to know their world a little bit. Do something with them, or do nothing. One thing I recommend is leaving notes to your kids. Make your home a sacred place, a place where special things happen. Get involved in setting the table and having a nice family dinner. Leave little notes for your daughter and ask her to leave some for you. Pop it in her school lunch, under her pillow, or in her Barbie chest. You want your children to perceive that you love them and that they have value. Children think this way: If my dad doesnít ask questions, and doesnít spend time with me, he doesnít care about me.

SD: Can you recommend any books?

Mark: I have two ebooks that are helpful, ď25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers,Ē and ď60 Tips for Fathers to Create Happy, Connected, and Responsible Kids.Ē
http://www.markbrandenburg.com/e_book.htm

SD: How does coaching fit in?

Mark: Because these things have to be put into practice, which requires change, and change involves risk, and itís helpful to have an expert who can guide the process. Someone who knows where youíre going when you canít quite see it yet, who knows these things work. Ultimately itís all about having better relationships, passion, a more meaningful life, and better health, with and through your family.

SD: I canít help but think ĖWhatís it like to work 10-12 hours and then come home and be the warm attentive father?

Mark: Paradoxically it can help. More effective fathers are more effective workers, and vice versa. Itís about personal development, about who youíre becoming. Okay hereís an example, letís call him Ted, a coaching client of mine. He has three boys and is a pretty reserved, analytical kind of fellow, a scientist. In his case, when he saw college on the horizon for the oldest son, he realized he wasnít as close to his boys as heíd like. In the coaching, it turned out he hadnít told his kids much about himself. He didnít tell his stories, talk about what he was really about. It was an ďah hahĒ moment for him when he realized if he wasnít willing to share with his kids, they werenít going to with him. I gave him some suggestions for getting started.Ē

SD: One more thing before we part. Can you give me an example of how it works changing the work situation first?

Mark: Sure. I had another client who wanted coaching because he had a dilemma. He had to work with some co-workers he didnít get along with, and he couldnít transfer and he didnít want to leave the company. In coaching, he discovered he was having the same sort of power struggles at home he was having at work. It centered around emotional intelligence competencies he needed to develop. He liked to control things at work, and also his wife and kids at home, but it wasnít getting him what he wanted.

SD: So the coaching work made him a more effective co-worker and also a more effective husband and parent?

Mark: He did a lot of work and the outcome was very favorable. He achieved his goals.


About the Author

Susan Dunn, Marketing, http://www.webstrategies.c, small business and professionals online. Mark Brandenburg, http://www.markbrandenburg.com , certified professional business, life and sports coach, has worked with individuals, teams, and businesses for 16+ years. Mark was a world-ranked competitive tennis player and has coached and trained other elite athletes. Markís interest has always been high performance. mailto:markbrandenburg@markbrandenburg.com for free ezine.

 

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