Engagement, Accessibility, Responsibility
Whether it’s the first time, 4th or more, there is no set criteria. Every dad has his little quirks and ways of doing the ‘daddying,’ but we found a mix of traits relating to engagement, accessibility, and responsibility as being key.
Let’s explore these in more detail.
1. Be Present: Too often, we think that being physically there for our kids is us ‘being there’ for them. It’s not. To be present means putting down the phone and really engaging with your kids. It doesn’t need to always be for hours, but really connecting emotionally is so vital for our kids to experience.
2. Regular communication: Children learn from a very young age, and talking, and asking the right questions (even if you get lots of ‘huh’s?) initially is a great way to show interest, and builds their own sense of communication with others.
3. Get great at listening: It is hard to resist the urge to jump in and solve the problems our kids have, to tell them what they should do. Often that comes out of a feeling of love for them — we are afraid that they will do the wrong thing so we want to fix it.
The good news is that the vast majority of dads know they’re bad at listening! When the Fathering Project asked audiences of dads how good they are at listening, 98 percent did not put their hands up — as a consequence kids, especially teenagers, refrain from telling their dads stuff because they are afraid of the lecture that they are about to get.
For those struggling to find the quality time each day, have you thought about a ‘dad-date?’ The Fathering Project even suggest the law “NOANOK” — No Other Adult, No Other Kids. It means the date involves just dad and just one of the children at a time.
Remember the word “BOOMERANG”. Most people in conversation boomerang the conversation back to themselves. So when your child says something about being at a party and the difficulties they have resisting the peer pressure to smoke, drink or to take drugs, it is easy to boomerang back to yourself and say “I remember when I was age . . .”. It is vastly more effective to continue to stick with what the child wants to say. Don’t let your own feelings get in the way of what’s being said in the moment.
1. Be available: For lots of dads, getting to home ‘on time’ can be a real issue, but as well as trying to make more of that precious time available, dads should also focus on making the time they have to really be there for their children.
Dr. Richard Fletcher, leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program based at the University of Newcastle, Australia, has a great piece of advice to get in the zone:
“Before dads get home from work, they should do things that prepare them to be with their kids. This could be listening to music or going for a walk. “Transition time” can help them move more smoothly from work to home life.”
2. Be open minded: Good parenting is about accepting the good with the bad, and this trait is as much about dad being open minded with himself, as with his kids. As technology moves fast, and the access to information and people our kids get, we need to be open-minded enough to move with them, not to feel we need to slow them down. Take an interest in how education is changing, and why.
3. Affection: Dads shouldn’t be afraid to show affection. Kids need physical contact, and not just from their mums and others. Snuggle with them, hug them, love them. There are different theories as to whether kids can get too much affection, but for us, the more the better!
Count to 10: Lots of dads tell us about how they can lose their temper when kids push their triggers. Counting to 10 if you feel the heat rising is a great way to cool off, reassess, and make sure you’re ready with the right solution. Don’t rush it dad.
1. Leads by example: Actions speak louder than words. A dad who can’t back up his words is simply ordering, not leading. Your kids are looking at everything you do, not to judge you, but to learn from you. That means sometimes dads need to show them the way and try not to contradict what they say with what they do.
2. Sets the right boundaries: Kids need discipline. There are no two ways about it. But what we define as discipline can, and should, vary. All kids are different and our privilege as a dad is to know how and when we need to set the right boundaries. Don’t forget your child is learning and growing all the time, it’s ok for them to make mistakes, and it’s ok for you to make mistakes – but go into it with the right boundaries.
3. Can work as a team: Where dad is part of a team; ie. With a partner, wife, extended family, close friends, etc – don’t forget the role and pressure that others in the home may be under too when it comes to the parent game.
It’s a two-way street – sometimes you need to step in and offer the help to others, and sometimes you need to raise your hand when you need that extra help. It’s a team game.
Sticking to the boundaries can be tricky – whether it’s giving them those extra 5 mins on Paw Patrol or letting them eat breakfast while sitting on you and not the high-chair– every parent does it differently – just make sure you know the boundaries – and review how you’re doing against them regularly.
The DaddiLife Perspective
Time isn’t the enemy; what you do with it is.
“If only I had more time” is a line you’ll hear a lot these days. It gets used about meeting friends/family more often, it gets used about going to the gym, but it also gets used about spending quality time with children. The enemy is not time, it’s what you do with however much of it you have. The art of being present is so important. Our children look up to us, and look to us to guide. Whatever time we have, don’t let that time be wasted time, dad.
This article was originally published on DaddiLife.com and is republished here with permission.
Photo credit: Getty Images