After a book signing, we took my two-year-old grandson to an ice cream parlor and got him a bowl of ice cream. It was supposed to be the kiddie size, but they accidently gave him a larger portion. He scooped up that vanilla fudge swirl like it was going to vanish before he could finish. When he took the last bite and stared into the empty bowl and said, “Put …more…in there.” I laughed, his mom and dad laughed, and we gently told him, “That is enough for now.”
Ice cream comes in a lot of flavors and so do fathers. Whatever flavor of father you may be, you are your children’s favorite! Unless, of course, you give them a colossal reason not to be–and it would take a colossal reason. Children are programmed to love their parents just like they seem to be programmed to love ice cream. The only difference is loving their parents is a much more healthy act.
Kids that never have ice cream, or the love of a father, don’t know what they are missing. They only see that other kids enjoy both and wonder what it is like. They are robbed of something very sweet in life.
Men that give up on fathering cheat not only their children, but themselves. The love, the smiles, the hugs are what you will recall the most. And seriously, it is not difficult to be a good father. Of course there are difficult times to go through, but that is where the satisfaction comes in, by working though issues and helping your child become a success in life.
Seven Tips to remain the “Flavor of the Month!”
Here are seven tips to help any man be a caring father. These are tips from my book, The Power of Dadhood, and I am expanding on them here. Any man who is aware of and accepts these important aspects of fathering will have no trouble being the flavor of the month, every month!
1. Neither he nor any other father knows everything or ever will. We do the best we can in every situation and should do what most dads won’t do: ask questions, read up, keep working at it.
2. His mistakes must not discourage him. Who doesn’t make mistakes? As I said in a recent article, “Success is a series of mistakes interrupted by persistence.” Never quit teaching out of frustration or fear of failure.
3. His actions are being observed. This is where you must have great awareness. Your actions speak so much louder than words! You can’t be the same man with your kids around as you may be with your drinking or sports buddies. Have principles you live by and teach through action.
4. He must be consistent, loving, sincere and available. This may be tip numero uno!
5. Humor will be an ally. Be fun to be around! I talked to a 56 year old woman last week who told me she was afraid of her dad. I didn’t take that to mean she respected him. I saw in her face that she was afraid to be herself around him. Joke around and be silly sometimes and watch your kids run into your arms.
6. His children must experience struggle (supervised, if possible) to learn and grow. As dads, we should never solve our children’s problems for them. We should teach them the skills and resilience to solve them on their own, while we look over their shoulder.
7. Every child is unique and learns differently and at a different pace. One size does not fit all, not when raising more than one child. Some need a push; some need reins; some need more attention at certain times than the others. Never compare your kids because they all have different strengths. One may run faster, but the slower one may read faster. Rewards and consequences could very well be different for each child. A young child with a slight impairment may be cheered more openly and loudly just by taking simple steps whereas the child without the impairment would not get the same attention for the same achievement.
Yes, dads are like ice cream. But different from ice cream, when a child says, “Put …more…in there,” you don’t say, “That is enough for now.” Unless, of course, the dad is being seriously silly that day! ###
In addition to being a retired Air Force pilot and the author of the new book, The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs, Col. Michael Smith is a husband, father and grandfather dedicated to helping fathers to be present and involved dads through his blog, “Helping Fathers to be Dads.” [website]