How does parenthood change us?

Karen and I went out to the cinema this week, an all too rare occasion since we had the boys. We watched Prisoners, a thriller about the abduction of two children and how their parents, and particularly the fathers, contend with this horrific event. Although it was an excellent and well-acted film, the subject matter left us both wrung out at the end of it.

This sort of film has become less watchable for me since I became a parent since it draws on one of our more basic of fears, having our children taken away from us. But what it got me thinking about most of all was how the fathers, and especially Hugh Jackman’s lead character, responds to his daughter’s abduction.

Without giving anymore away plot-wise than the average review what follows next is a gripping two and a half hours in which the parents get increasingly desperate to get their children back. In Jackman’s case this involves a significant amount of pre-meditated violent intervention – and many have suggested that the film asks us to think about if and when torture is acceptable. This is surely the case, but I viewed it more from the point of view of a father, and this led me to ask the extent that I would go were I that situation.

To go back to the theme of my previous few postings, I wondered how I saw this character. Was he a hero for seeking to protect his family and get his daughter back? Or was he out of control and a danger to himself and others? I guess that depends on your perspective, and the reaction of the other three parents in this scenario would suggest that the boundaries of right and wrong are far from clear. In many ways he was their hero because they saw him as their only chance.

While this is an extreme example I think that there are elements of reality here for most parents, and while most of us will thankfully never have to go through the unimaginable agony of having a child abducted (and a respectful mention for Kate and Gerry McCann who have gone through their ordeal with such dignity and determination) we do go that extra mile to protect our children.

I have found myself on a number of occasions wanting to step into situations that I would normally stay out of because my children are involved. It is, it seems to me, a natural reaction and sometimes I have responded in ways that have been beyond where I would normally go; although the use of violence, I think, would be beyond my own bounds of acceptability.

This, for me, highlights how becoming a parent changes us. It shows, quite starkly I think, how our perceptions and priorities change. But also that becoming a parent changes something fundamental about who we are. We are still us, but we are different. Our situation is different.

This is easier for some to come to terms with than others. For me it really took a change of lifestyle, including losing my job, to fully appreciate the change; and if this had not happened I might never have fully appreciated the potential changes that fatherhood brings with the resulting confusion and stress that this can bring.

That change was far from easy but it has become a very positive for me, and I would not have missed watching Jake perform in his Year 1 play for anything yesterday; not only for myself but to see his joy that both Karen and myself were able to go and support him. No change is easy and similarly we need support to do it.

Does this sound familiar?

If so, what would you change?

Where would you get your support?

Have you thought of coaching?

Why not look at what I have to offer, here?