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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Advice to New Fathers

Since it's Father's Day, I thought I'd share a few thoughts about what it means to be a father.  Listed in no particular order.

1.  Don't Start Too Early
You have to be smart and patient to be a good father, two traits that don't normally come to men in their 20's.

2.  Don't Start Too Late
It takes TON of energy to be a good father.  At 50 I could never be the parent of young children.  So when is the best time to become a father?  I'd say early 30's sounds about right.

3.  There Is No Manual
There is no comprehensive manual on how to be a good father.  At best, I offer the following:  look at how you were raised by your dad (or, in my case, not raised by your dad) and emulate the good things while making up for the bad.  For me, this means trying very hard to do two things for my daughters:  First and foremost, be present in their lives and second, tell them that you love them, often.

4.  There Is No Glory
Yes, today is Father's Day, but by and large it's a fairly soft holiday.  That's okay though, because being a good father means that you are really rewarded 365 days a year.

5.  Be Prepared To Take It On The Chin
Be prepared to take a verbal beating every once in a while if you are a good father.  Why?  See above:  it comes with being present in the lives of your children.  You will be taken for granted.  You will be ignored from time to time.  It all comes with the stripes, and it is all a very small price to pay for helping to shape the lives of your children.

6.  Be Honest
Being a good father means that you are honest with your children, even when others are not.  Always remember that the world is a pretty unforgiving place, so it's your job to help your children prepare for the adult world in a loving and safe way.  Don't be afraid to admit when you are wrong, but only when you are actually wrong; feigning error for the sake of temporary peace is both pathetic and counter-productive.

7.  Forgive, Often
Your children will disappoint you, just as you disappointed your parent(s).  Again, it's a price of admission.  Forgiveness is both powerful and free.  When you feel disappointed, simply let that feeling go.

8.  Work Hard
Show your children that there is value and nobility in hard work, both personally and professionally.  What they see you do they will view as important, even when they say the opposite.

9.  Learn All The Time
Set an example for your children by being a life-long learner.  Have many books around.  Be interested in current events.  Show your children that learning is an important part of everyday life.

10.  Teach Your Children To Take The Long View
The world teaches your children that happiness comes from "things" or from looking a certain way or acting a certain way.  The world teaches your children that everything has to happen "now".  Be a counterweight to the world for your children.  Teach them that real happiness doesn't come from the outside, but rather from the inside.  Teach your children the value of patience and being persistent.  Teach them that being comfortable in one's own skin is a far better goal than trying to please anyone else.

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