Hey Dads, you are incredibly important and special in your child’s life. You are here because you know that and you care which makes it easy to tell you that you are a good dad even if you don’t think you are. You are ahead of the game because you actually care enough to try to improve your dad game by reading up on the idea. It takes a lot of love on your part to set your ego to the side and admit that you might be able to do something better in the fatherhood department. You are awesome and we appreciate that you are making an effort to be the best dad you can be. I know you don’t have a great deal of time so we will get to it. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you that you are doing a good job as a dad, you probably will not hear it often as most parents don’t.
1. Parenting well is difficult, so give yourself some grace.
Despite an overwhelming number of books on the subject there is NO manual on parenting that is 100% correct. That is the reason that there are thousands of books and articles on the subject of parenting. Everyone is looking for the one guide to rule them all. It does not exist and that is simply because there is no kid in the world exactly like yours. They all come with their own distinct personalities, preferences, nuances and attitudes. You can and will influence the development of those things, but they come with their own unique blueprint that will grow itself with the help of what you do as a parent and sometimes despite what you do as a parent. So give yourself some grace, you are unique as an individual and so is your kid. You may not be perfect but you are likely the perfect match for your child.
2. You will get angry as a parent, that is ok
I used to get so freaked out when my girls pushed my buttons to the point where I wanted to scream. I thought I was a horrible father because I would get angry with my innocent young children. Turns out that I am not the only one and it is pretty normal. Many parents are dealing with major schedule alterations that impact you drastically as an adult. You are trying to figure out how to fit this “parenting thing” with the rest of your already over scheduled life. Trying to figure out how everything fits because your child comes with their own sense of time and it is usually the most inconvenient possible timing for you. You are also likely sleep deprived and malnourished because these are the 2 things that we sacrifice first. Like many things in life the most important thing is learning how to deal with your anger and frustration in healthy ways.
-Try walking away from the situation for 5 to 10 minutes, it will give you time to gain perspective. That maybe putting the kid in front of the TV or down for supervised play time on the floor (depending on the age) with an older kid that may mean sending them to sit on their bed for a few minutes. Just don’t react when you are angry and it will help a lot for both of you.
3. Prioritize Yourself First
Sounds crazy right? Contrary to the things you hear all the time about good, selfless parents to make the world revolve around their children. Here is a simple truth, parents hold the world together for children, and so if you crash the kids will too. Also they are children, they need to be trained to understand it is their place to learn to fit into the world around them with your help, the world does not revolve around them. You are a responsible adult, you have things to do like pay bills to keep providing things they need like food or a bed. You can still be a great parent and not let your child rule your household, I am not sure why people ever allow that kind of nonsense. I admit it may take some creative scheduling depending on your children’s age; this tends to be a bigger issue with parents with younger kids. Let’s keep this in context, if you are on the verge of starvation strategic choices have to be made. For a lot of people it is not that drastic. So schedule in time to take care of yourself; make sure you are eating healthy and getting sleep. Get in a workout, I am not talking about 3 hour gym sessions, just get in a walk or 30 minute session. You can get a lot done in a short time and be sure to tag in and out with your spouse so you can both get taken care of. If you are helping each other and working together you can both maintain your physical and mental health which is better for your children.
4. Set a schedule
I am not a doctor of any kind, I have no degrees, fancy papers nor initials behind my name. I have been working with kids from toddlers to teenagers for over 20 years. It is what I employ with my children at home, so it is not just some random thing I read. Kids thrive on schedules and it makes your life so much easier as a parent. Parents these days don’t want to be “controlling” or they want to be their kid’s friends. Be a parent. They have friends and you have a more important role. Help them succeed because life works on a schedule. Set a schedule for your house and their life. It builds consistency in a chaotic world and that creates security. If life continues forward in a normal schedule it helps them establish good habits (like maintaining a job because they understand schedules) and teaches them to prioritize their free time around commitments. It also brings comfort to have a consistent routine, they will sleep better too.
5. Be in the moment
This is really important and difficult at a time in history when there are so many things clamoring for your attention. As a bonus this applies with your spouse as well.
Quality over quantity is huge! We all have super busy schedules these days, on the go and reachable 24 hours a day. I would love to spend all my time playing with my children and just doing stuff with them. I love my time with my kids! Unfortunately the bank wants the mortgage payment and there are a few other people that really think I should pay them for their services as well. Then there are clothes and food and a bunch of other not fun but highly necessary things that require money. Sadly, life is expensive and very few people have the finances to play with their kids all day every day. The time you do have with them needs to be prioritized as theirs. I just had to turn down dinner and drinks with a friend yesterday because I promised I would be home for our bedtime routine.
Doesn’t bother me to pass on it, that is my girl’s time.
So turn off the phone and the social media and be deeply and completely invested in your kids when you are with them. Don’t just listen, but really hear them. Make good eye contact and be interested in what they are saying, it is fascinating to hear what they come up with. Young or older, they are aware when you are not really with them. Facebook, Instagram, other platforms and even (cringe) blogs will be there later. Be present when you are with someone, but especially your kids.
Thanks for taking some time to make yourself a better father, like I said, you are already doing pretty well to be here or anywhere seeking ideas to be better.
Did you learn anything? Any of these ring a bell for you? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear what your thoughts are on it. Let me know if you have something to add!
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!