I recently presented a workshop at the Melbourne Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo. It was great.
I attended the expo around 16 years ago when I became a dad.
At that time, if there were any men there, they were hiding at the back of the hall in the café holding bags or boxes of goodies, supping a latte, checking their bank balance as their expectant partner roamed the stalls.
Today hundreds of blokes show up. They do so every year.
Yes, some blokes are doing the hiding in the café thing. However, there were tons of guys walking around.
Some with dazed looks absorbing the hundreds of services, products and toys. And there were other guys engaged with fresh-faced exhibitors being seduced by their discounts and hype.
There were men talking animatedly with stallholders, carrying their newborns, testing out the latest all-terrain strollers, taking their young ones to the animal enclosure and popping along to the workshops.
The men at my workshop sat, listened, talked and made notes. They reflected on how they can be engaged, involved and active fathers and partners, whilst also defining their hopes and dreams for their pregnancy, birth and relationship moving forward into parenthood.
The expo highlighted how much more visible men have become in showing up for their kids, their partners and for themselves.
My conversation with the fathers focused particularly on the characteristics, or values associated with fatherhood. It made me think how men show up in other aspects of their own lives, and in the lives of others.
Men play a huge part in their intimate relationships by being engaged, expressive, playful, caring and interested in the lives of their partner.
Men also shape the level of intimacy within their relationship by sharing their thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams for their own lives including their fears and vulnerabilities.
Men as fathers come in various forms. Today fathers are no longer just the breadwinner and disciplinarian in the family. He can be single or married; externally employed or stay-at home; gay or straight; an adoptive or step-parent.
Men show up in families as more than capable caregivers to their children. By showing their affection and increased parenting involvement they help influence their children’s social and emotional development.
When blokes are engaged, involved, playful and nurturing men not only do our children benefit, so do our partners, our friends, our work mates, our families and indeed ourselves.
This can be a broad area of life for men and not only associated with a job.
Men work as househusbands or work on tasks in the home or projects in their community.
For some men their job tends to define them. Work for men can be simply a wage packet, a means to an end.
Work of every kind is a place where men are organised, disciplined, determined, industrious, ambitious and accomplished.
There are of course other areas of life men show up in, including:
– Their community
– Their faith
– Their sporting activities