From Dad, to Step-Dad to Grand Dad, Alan Maguire has looked at fatherhood from three perspectives. Here are the 15 lessons he learned from his experiences.
I’ve had three opportunities to be a parent: First my own children, followed by my step-son and now my grandson. Each relationship has asked different things of me and I have learnt new lessons and experienced new joys with each.
In my first marriage it was me who pushed for having kids and I loved the whole ‘dad’ vibe. It was a little unusual in the 80s for dads to ‘help with the kids’, changing nappies, bathing, feeding, playing and reading. I was surprised by women who complimented me on helping my wife – I didn’t do it for her, I did it for me. I was at work during the day and if I didn’t do those things I would never have had time to get to know my kids.
When I re-married 10 years ago, my stepson was 12. But while his mother had the choice about whether I was in her life, he had no say in accepting me into his life so I had to be careful about which battles were worth the fight. One battle I didn’t want to fight was to protect my own ego, I didn’t want to get into a “man-hood” (pissing) contest with my step-son. My wife didn’t need to have two boy-children to deal with.
My grandson is now six and while he is a pleasure and I am sure, the easiest child on the planet, I’m exhausted after an hour of “why gran-dad?” It’s wonderful to see him and even more wonderful to hand him back to my son at the end of each visit.
So after thirty years of parenting here is a list of 15 things I wish I wish I knew as a young dad:
- Take time to see the world through your children’s eyes as it will constantly remind you of the wonder of creation
- Set boundaries – we all need to know how far we can go
- Baby poo isn’t poison (and it washes off)
- Take time with bath-time. You can mop up the water later.
- The box the gift comes in is often more fun than the gift.
- Read to your kids. They will remember all the stories word for word.
- Sleep with your sick child lying on your chest. Both of you will feel better.
- Attend your child’s sport matches (especially if your child is in the 5th)
- Play and listen. That’s when the real stuff happens.
- There’s nothing wrong with dads kissing their sons
- Girls like rough and tumble as much as boys
- The school of ‘hard knocks’ is a really good school
- When you’ve messed up, apologise
- It’s okay to say no
- With your own kids: if you are motivated by kindness, trust yourself! With your grandkids: if your kids are motivated by kindness, keep your mouth shut!