This post was originally blogged on Tumblr, in 2014.
“…that’s Mireya’s dad,” I hear someone say, as they walk up to me on a post-Church Service Sunday afternoon. Three years of practice have quickened my reaction time to such introductions and I smile; with a twinkly-eye matter-of-fact-ness that’s hard to ignore – I AM her father, and I love it!
In the 9 months leading up to Mireya’s birth, my friends and family often said: you’ll be a great dad; you’re a natural! I gloated, but I also knew it’d take much more than “past successes” – elder brother-ing, baby-sitting and sunday school-ing – to be a good great dad.
~3 years and 3 months on from the day my dottie was born, here are 10 “becoming-a-better-daddy” lessons I’ve learnt.
1. Be patient – it’s a no-brainer that needs every-moment practice
I’ve struggled with this; still do. Hearing a child scream drives me crazy,
seeing my daughter throw a tantrum annoys me.
I’m learning not to be quick to correct, but to wait and keep myself from saying too much. Thought over instinct always wins, when thought gets there first.
Don’t get too caught up with what you’re doing. Really, it can wait a while. Take a moment to listen to your child. If not, your shirt will get yanked on, your hair pulled at, and your ear drums enslaved until you do.
Paraphrasing a scary quote I read not too long ago, if you don’t listen to the silly, seemingly unimportant things your kids tell you when they’re little, they won’t tell you the important stuff when they’re older.
3. Encourage, encourage, encourage…
4. Discipline your child, but not when you’re angry
Discipline is good.
I always remind myself to let Mireya know that I discipline her because I love her. If you discipline your children out of anger and frustration, they most likely will always fear making you angry and the consequences that brings rather than focusing on what you’re trying to help them change.
Breathe + think > Address the situation, calmly > Make it rain affection!
5. Build trust
Don’t lie to your kids or tell them stories to scare them just because you want them to listen to you. Indian friends, threats like “if you don’t eat your food, the tiger will come and eat you up” need to leave our homes.
If you lie to your kids now, how will they trust you when they’re older?
6. Manipulation is a no-no
The “if you come to me now I’ll give you a chocolate” strategy will come back to bite you in a few years. Make your kids listen by being stubborn and refusing to budge in any situation. 🙂
7. Be a man of your word. Always.
8. Don’t yell at your kids
You wouldn’t like your dad shouting at 30-year-old you in a room full of people (or even 1:1, for that matter) would you? Don’t yell at your kids. If you really need them to “snap out of it”taking them aside and speaking to them firmly or giving them a much need spanking (you read that right) in private is the route I’d recommend.
9. Embrace madness
Play their real “imagination games” with them, dance, run, joke, listen to their jokes, laugh, giggle, eat doll-house food, play house-house every few hours…
When you make an effort, it can be a lot of fun!
10. Love her mother MORE (and learn from her approach to parenting)
It’s important to love your children unconditionally, it’s also important to shower their mother with love, affection and adulation in their presence.
I’ve found that displaying affection makes Mireya happy. Every once in a while she says: “Papa, kiss mama; I think she’s missing you!”
A few seconds later, she initiates group-hug mode! 🙂
My wife is a goldmine of information, stats, creative ideas and general super mom-ness. I’ve come a long way as a dad because Mireya has her for a mom.