I'll be the first to admit it, I never thought I'd make a very good father. It's not because I didn't see myself as a dad, it's just that I didn't see myself as having all the key elements that make for a great one. I can be selfish, and stubborn, and lazy and unlikeable at times, and those aren't the qualities of a good father? Or are maybe they are?
We all bring something to the table, after all, a father shouldn't be judged solely on his worst qualities. Instead, he should be judged on the quality of his work- the role he fills in the family unit, and the example he sets for all men to learn from his example. By those standards, I may not be such a bad father after all. But it's nothing I learned from a manual, or a book, or a seminar, or a video- it was in me the whole time. It just took the right "person" to bring it out. Being a father is as easy or as hard as you make it out to be. It's simply a choice to either sink or swim; persevere or perish. It's merely a matter of taking the time to get to know someone - yourself.
The 6 P's of Fatherhood
Great parenting is nothing more than choosing a set of beliefs and sticking to them (until they no longer work). Maybe you're in to prayer and you incorporate that into the every day education of your children? Maybe you're a proponent of positive reinforcement, or punishment, or Paganism? I don't judge. We all have our own unique ways of raising our children. Let the experts fight it out for who is wrong and who is right. I just want to raise healthy, happy kids that move out of the house before the age of thirty.
Here are the six things I believe all fathers must bring to the table in order to raise well-adjusted, confident, and competent children. I call them the 6 "P"s:
Yes. It's hard to imagine maintaining your composure when you're struggling to change the dirty diaper of a screaming, squirming infant that keeps trying to take a header off the change table at 4 a.m., but you do, against all odds. And it's not because you don't want to give up. You choose to keep your cool because that's what good parents do. Now, if you can keep that up during the terrible twos and the teenage years you'll probably deserve a metal, but you'll never see one, and a good parent is okay with that. Patience is the greatest weapon you have. If you can master it, you can survive almost anything your kids throw at you- except maybe feces?
True. It's difficult to remain positive when you're rushing your daughter to emergency because she split her head open on the coffee table, but people do- and all parents should. "Never let them see you sweat," is a motto all parents, especially dads, should live by. Positivity helps you remain calm, cool and collected in a crisis when your child needs you the most- like when your daughter doesn't get the lead in the high school musical because she sounds like a dying cat when she sings... There's always next year!
3) Personal Attention:
Now, every child is different and deserves to be treated as such. You can't expect what worked on your first child to always work on your second, or third, or even forth. Everyone wants to be treated like an individual with their own thoughts, wants and dreams. Give your kids the respect they deserve by treating them as their own unique person (even when you want to kill them - not literally) and they will reward you by using that independence to either: 1) pull down their pants and pee in the mall fountain (today), or 2) graduate with honors from Harvard Law (tomorrow). Like anything else, you've got to take the good with the bad. And whatever their personality, it's your job to help your child to reach their full, unique, albeit it artistic and weird at times, potential. Relax, it could be worse, you could be raising kids in the Disco, Punk or Hippie Eras.
No. Protecting a child doesn't mean sheltering them, it means guiding them, and holding their hand until they are old enough to make good decisions on their own- somewhere in their forties. You can't always be there to protect your child, at least not physically, but you can prepare them for the world in which they will live - free of your rules and financial support.
Well, it you can't beat 'em (and you can't anymore, it's the law) join 'em. Play is the best way for parents, but especially dads, to exert influence over their kids. Playing games helps to teach your kids rules, respect for authority, and a healthy respect for your patience level, all while getting that all important interaction time with dad. You can't ignore your kids, or relegate them to the back yard to play, and expect them to respect you when you yell at them for being too loud. Respect is earned, and it works best if it is mutual. So play with your kids. It will help you achieve their admiration, or at the very least it will help you tire them out.
6) A Plan... a good one, for the fiscal future and the great beyond.
And there you have it. Well, except for that all important ingredient: love.