7 Moves That Will Make You a Better Dad
I found this a awhile back on msn.com and try to remember to read it every 6 months, or so. Found it again this morning and thought I'd share.
7 Moves That Will Make You a Better Dad
Tips for raising happy, well-adjusted kids. Tips for raising happy, well-adjusted kids.
By Craig Playstead
1. Dig deeper
A nice house, cool clothes, and grub on the table just aren't enough. Providing for our kids is in our DNA, but how well do you know yours? Do you know who your kids play with at recess? What subject they really struggle with? What they love to eat for hot lunch? If you don't know these things, you need to. While all of us are busy as hell with work and everything else in our lives, we need to make time for our kids and get to really know them -- especially the odd, everyday things that make them tick. I make it a point to talk with my kids about what happened at recess before asking about what happened in class. I want to know about the relationships they're forging, and also what they're up to with their only free time of the day. It's not easy to get this from them. But here's a fun way to spend a little time with them that they'll think is awesome: When your son or daughter is standing at the bus stop ready to be picked up for school, drive up, stop, and tell them to get in. Kidnap them for breakfast and they'll think it's the coolest thing ever. When kids are really impressed or excited by something (like this) there's a much better chance of them opening up and telling you about their lives. Don't preach, don't gasp, just listen.
2. Teach your kids to stand tall
One of the most important things a father needs to teach his kids is how to stand up for themselves. You will not get far in this world if you become a doormat, and the longer you let it happen, the harder it is to turn it around. This can be anything from just learning how to speak up in class, or confronting someone who's being unfair to them. Our offspring need to be heard, defend what they believe in, and not be bullied. Yes, we want them to be nice and to treat people well, but there is also a time to be assertive instead of like a punching bag. Teaching them how to do all this in a scary world is one of the basic duties of being a father.
3. Get off your rear
While we may be proud of our lecturing skills, most of the time when we talk all our kids hear is, "Blah, blah, blah." So that makes our actions even more important. You can tell the kids that it's important to be healthy and active, but if all they ever see you do is sit on the couch shoveling Doritos into your mouth as you watch "Celebrity Rehab," they're going to do the exact same thing. Kids should always be learning, exploring and trying new things. It's all part of how they find out what they're passionate about and who they are.
Dads can help fuel this exploration by doing the same thing; getting involved in new sports, musical instruments, and activities. This keeps dads fresh and active, and also shows kids that it's cool to try new things. Want to crank up the enthusiasm? Get junior's buddy and his dad in the game too -- kids will do almost anything if their friends are involved. If you want to start golfing, make it a foursome and it'll be even more fun.
4. Prepare for your death
This should be something that I shouldn't even have to write, but it's amazing how many men skip this to save a buck. We can all sit here and think that it's not going to happen to us, but death happens to dads every day. Protecting your family should be number-one on your responsibilities list as a father. If you're not taking care of your family you run the risk of ruining their lives if the worst should happen. This encompasses a lot, including having a life insurance policy and a will, and knowing who's going to be there to teach your son about being a man. Another aspect of this is keeping yourself healthy with regular physicals and, for God's sake, exercise. I used to work out to look better, but now it's all about longevity. My ultimate goal is to live long enough to make sure my daughter doesn't marry some jackass. They don't say "hope for the best and prepare for the worst" for nothing.
5. No worshipping heroes
There are parents out there who absolutely worship their kids and think they can do no wrong. But those kids will grow up with a distorted view of how the world works. Every parent should love the hell out of their children, but thinking that they are flawless is setting all of you up for disaster. The kids end up with unreal expectations on how the world works, don't understand defeat, and can't figure out why everyone doesn't think they walk on water. And the parents end up devastated when you finally come to the realization that little Tony actually is capable of throwing his classmate into the girls' bathroom or stealing the neighbor's mail. We all have flaws, and there's nothing wrong with that. Let them learn to deal with the disappointment of losing, and even the brilliance of constructive criticism. It'll prepare them for the real world.
6. Remember why you married her
I've said this before, but a lot of people still scratch their head when I do. One of the best (if not the best) things you can do for your kids is to be a good husband to their mother. This can be difficult to do, but it just might be the most important item on the list. We pay so much attention to not screwing up our kids that we sometimes neglect the one relationship that plays the biggest role in the person they turn out to be. And if you're divorced, remember that the way you treat their mother will have an enormous impact. It will help them respect her, and also show them how to deal with challenging relationships as they get older.
7. Imitate Clark W. Griswold
Clark was on to something when he loaded up the family truckster and headed west to Wally World. A couple times a year, we all need to bust out of that rut that our daily routine puts us in -- and getting out of Dodge is the only cure. It's not just us either; every member of the family needs to get away and put a little adventure back in their life. As painful as the family vacation can be while it's happening (with the constant potty breaks, spilled juice boxes, and annoying comments from the backseat), I run into more adults who claim that vacations were the parts about their childhood that they'll never forget. It doesn't have to be expensive -- you don't have to go far -- you just need to have a family experience to remember, for better or worse.