10 Things Every Dad (new or seasoned) Should Know!
by Amy Wine, M.A. LPC-Intern, LMFT-A
Licensed Professional Counselor Intern
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate
- Let’s Talk MISTAKES! It is perfectly normal to secretly wonder, at some point in your life, if you made a mistake becoming a parent. These thoughts are simply a fear about all the mistakes you are going to make with your child. So, give your self a break, mourn your pre-parenting days, and move on to making the mistakes. The most important thing you need to know about making mistakes, other than you will make them, is to learn how to ask for forgiveness from your child. This is a great life lesson for a child. Learning from their daddy how to admit their mistakes, ask for, and give forgiveness, is one of the single best things you can gift your child.
- Love Their Mommies! Model what love is, be emotionally engaged, give words of affirmation, and YES, even showing affection to their mommies (think hugs and kisses). Of course, there are going to be days you might not even like their mommies, BUT don’t let on to the kids. Divorced? No problem, you can still show admiration and fondness for their mommies. After all, you did love and care for them once! Talking nice to and about their mommies is a gift they will treasure for a lifetime.
- Making (and enjoying) Meals! It is perfectly OKAY to make dinners all from the freezer, yes, using only a microwave, or breakfast for dinner! Let it go! Simply enjoy eating with your child and making this time fun! Dinner can be one of the most special things you do as a family. SUPER SLEUTH DAD TIP: Want to find out what is going on with your child, simply ask two questions: 1) What was the best part of your day? 2) What was the worst part of your day? Hard for them to grunt, give a short yes or no answer, and you can learn a lot about your child.
- Be the Adult! Yes, your precious child is going to try and get their way, and often! Remember, ONLY the child has a right to act like a child! Meaning, don’t get in a shouting match, argument, or see who can have the biggest tantrum with your child. While fatherhood can be joyous, it can also be frustrating. It is okay to say, “Stop, I don’t argue with children!” A child wants and needs boundaries and it is your job to show them the way. Watch out, take a deep breathe, and don’t let yourself become a mirror image of the irrational little person staring you down.
- Be a Kid! Wait! You just told me to be the adult! Yep, I did! Now be the kid, no not the tantrum throwing, arguing, yelling child. Be the fun one! There is plenty of time to be serious with your child, but they also need to know you can laugh, joke around, and simply be ridiculously fun! Every interaction doesn’t have to come with a frown, so turn that frown upside down and show your child that you are great fun to be with!
- Consistency is Key! If you get this one right, you are well on your way to being the most awesome parent on the planet. It is simple really, if you say it, mean it, and follow through! For example: You tell your child “If you don’t clean your room you won’t get electronics for a week!” Then you better not give in on electronics for a week (yes I’m serious, the entire week)! So here it comes, Super Dad Tip: Don’t punish yourself! For instance: you are going to want and need a break from your child at some point during that week. If they can’t even watch a 30 minute television show, you have punished yourself. Get it?
- You are Not Your Child’s Babysitter! You were a full and equal partner in making that little bundle of joy, therefore, you are a full and equal partner in caring for that child. Daddies are not babysitters! Be involved, show as much love as you can, learn what you don’t know, and understand fear is normal!
- Make Time for Yourself and Others! Wait, what!?!? Yes, you get time for you! In fact, it needs to be a habit! It is extremely important for your child to understand that your mission in life is not to cater to their every need! Let that soak in! Seeing you with friends, spending time dating your spouse, or taking time alone is vital! Your child will learn what it means to be those things as an adult and understand that it always isn’t about them!
- Be Someone They Can Trust! Just like others have to earn your trust, you have to earn your child’s trust. This can be earned through being consistent and dependable. They will learn they need to be trustworthy as well simply by your modeling.
- You Don’t Have to be the Macho Dad! There is a misconception out there that dads must be the strong one, busy one, tough one, the Macho Dad! It’s okay if you are playing a movie character, such as The Terminator! However, your child needs to see that dad has emotions inside, to hear you love them, give them hugs and kisses, and you can even cry a bit in front of your child! (Okay, you can leave out the crying, if you must!)
While there are many more tips we could write to all the awesome daddies out there, it all boils down to simply being present and real with your child. Happy Father’s Day!