There are many ways to be a good dad, so I say we cut the bullshit and get right to it. As a dad, you have been given the responsibility of guiding and teaching your children. From a man’s point of view (pretty funny as we men often depend on the strong voice and guidance of a woman to get our heads out of our asses on most things), teaching can be as much as a challenge as it is for the children to learn. I hope these tips will help other fathers have a good relationship with their kids before it is too late.
1. Teach. A dad teaches by example. How we dress, eat, treat others, tip in a restaurant, carry our money, throw a football are all things are kids mirror. Most importantly kids see how we walk, talk, listen and love. Dads are always teaching.
2. Love. This is a big one. Love your children unconditionally. Hug them all the time. It is OK for dads to hug and kiss. The warmth you show them will make them feel protected.
3. Trust. We need to trust our children. Give them space to make the right decisions, trust them to not post provocative pics on social media. Trust in their ability to trust others. When their own trust is broken – by a friend, a teacher, a coach – be their to support them and show them not to give up on their own ability to trust.
4. Forgive. Let’s face it, we may do our best to forgive but we never ever forget. Forgiveness is not easy for this Dad, but I work on it every day to set an example for my kids.
5. Be Consistent. One of the most difficult things in life is to be consistent. It is human nature to take the foot off the gas on all fronts. As a dad you don’t have that luxury, people in your family depend on you. Expecting the youth to react well to a father’s highs and lows …really?? No!! Be consistent.
6. Set Expectations. Dads should teach expectations (why again do we all get trophies?) One of the most satisfying things as a dad is to see your little girl or your sons work their respective asses off and achieve the unattainable goal that was set in front of them. My favorite saying? “Expect it guys!”
7. Just Parent, Don’t Peer-ent. You are not their friend….yet (this isn’t easy.) As a father of two teenage boys and a newly teenaged girl, it is this Daddy’s opinion that a friend is not what they need at this stage. Having a sip of wine or champagne for a celebration, yes. Shots of whiskey, um no! You get the point. If you did your parenting job to the best of your ability, when they go off to college or to a chosen profession, your beautiful lifetime friendship will begin.
8. Show Mistakes As Lessons. I am a million miles from a perfect dad, but I try to be better than the dad I had, who one day decided to go out for a loaf of bread at 9:20 pm on a raw rainy September evening and selfishly never came back. He abandoned my beautiful mother, my sister and two older brothers (by the way, this is a big don’t. ) From that experience I learned what kids really need – love, trust, consistency, forgiveness and good role models.
One day before my Mom passed away years ago, we were sitting together with the children. She turned to me and said, “Do you have any idea how wealthy you are?” She was never more correct. Children are a gift. The way dads treat them can leave a lasting impression. So do your job, do it well and you will have a relationship with your children for a long time.
I am a software company administrator nearing retirement by day and a fiction writer in the early morning hours. I’ve published eleven short stories in literary journals, and I’m proud of that! I live in the Boston area with my husband, a photographer. His three children are grown. We enjoy museums and movies, and we take a lot of walks in the parks near our house. In my second act, I still care a lot about clothes.