It’s a bittersweet day. Tomorrow I head to London for a few days to give a conference. I know my little guy takes my trips very hard, so it does weigh on me. My day started with a long run, listening to Paolo Nutini in my iPod. As I was running, I was thinking about how historically for dads it takes a little extra to establish bonds with our children. An effort I make most joyfully.
How can I as a dad take action to create bonding with my child from the inside? What is the role of oxytocin in parenting? For those of you who don’t know, oxytocin, “the love hormone” is produced at specific times in our lives. But none of them as strong or abundant as when a woman gives birth. That unbreakable bond happens through chemical magic as women’s brains create an overdose of oxytocin at such key moment, sealing the deal between the two of them. Dads don’t have that privilege. We gotta put in the work.
When I got home, my wife suggested we spend the day at the beach, to have a joyful departure. My son loves the sea, and building things with sand. Well, actually he loves ordering me around to build the things he comes up with. The oxytocin nerd in me tells me this is a golden opportunity, because when he sees that I am listening and acknowledging his wishes, it will expand the level of trust he has in me. Those are the little baby steps we dads gotta do to on a regular basis. Oh, and hugs. Lots of long, slow hugs.
Three towers, one castle, and some random piles of sand later, we went home. All these hours as an obedient construction worker were not enough; I was now expected to grill a meal for everyone. Extra bacon for me. But after dessert, I had to break the news to my childlike boss: I would be gone for a little while. There were tears, but also some reasoning. We agreed we had had an excellent day, and that doing my paying job was just as important. He made me promise we would Skype sometime and went to bed. When he wakes up, I will be on my way to Heathrow.
Here’s an article about how oxytocin plays a role in the bonds of dads and their kids. Good night.