The other day, I was reading an article in a magazine and the last question in the article was “Am I the dad I would want?” It really got me thinking. Every day, I make these little decisions: be the fun dad or not, be patient or not, pick up their coat for the 10th time, or leave it for them… Raise my voice when we are late, or simply take the time to teach them why we need to be on time. Take the time to teach them, or get it done faster by doing it myself.
We are constantly battling ourselves about if we are doing this whole parenting thing right.
So today, I asked myself “Am I the dad I would want?”
When my kids come in from the garage, and they’ve tossed their shoes in the landing, and I say “Pick up your shoes! I don’t want to have to tell you this every time!” I think about it. I’ve just yelled but what good did it do? Scare them into moving? Yes. Teach the a lesson? No.
What could I do differently? Talk to them, teach them. Show them what happens when someone trips over that shoe.
Every day, I make these choices. Yesterday, Beau had a birthday party at a skating rink. Jack and I were going to go (Becky, Ethan & Allie were at another party.) I told Jack that he could skate, too, so I went over & paid for him to skate. When I handed the man with the skates my ticket, he said “What size do you need?” I told him Jack’s size and he said “Ok.. and the other one?” I was confused and he said I had bought two tickets.
So… I skated.
I got in there & played. I didn’t watch. I didn’t observe. I just skated… for over 2 hours. I held their hands. I laughed. I picked them up when they fell. It was more than just teaching them… instead I just played with them.
When we came home last night, Jack told Becky “Mom! This was the best day. Dad skated with me and we were racing!”
They both decided to have parties there and that they want to go skating “every weekend.”
We can make the choice to be the dad that they want to be around, the dad that they want to spend time with, the dad that leads by example. Or we can make the choice to be the dad that is the punisher, the heavy-handed ruler, the demanding dad that expects perfection. I don’t want my kids to fear me. I want them to respect me.
I want them to come to me with things, to joke around with me and tell me the funny things that happen to them. That’s the type of dad that I want to be.
Every day, we are faced with the decision.
Does it take extra work? Yes.
Do I need constant reminders? Yes.
In reality, these things that take extra time & effort are the things that will make me happy as a parent and make our kids happy as kids. It is what will make them happy adults. It is what will make them be the same type of parent: loving, patient, understanding, fun.
My wife once saw a man with two teenage boys- they were the most kind, respectful boys. She asked him what he did to make this happen. His answer was so simple: “They are my best friends.” She asked him what he meant and he said “I hang out with them on the weekends. We watch games together. We go places together. I don’t restrict them from cutting their hair in a certain way or wearing certain clothes because those things don’t matter. I care about their character. That’s what I work on. I teach them to be better people and to be kind. I do it by being there for them. They know that they are the people I want to be with and we respect each other.”
I hope that this is the dad that I can be and that my kids will be this way in ten years. I hope that the time that I put in now will build a relationship to last a lifetime, a bond that is unbreakable.
Am I the kind of dad that I would want? I’m trying… every day, I’m trying…
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