In conjunction with my wife’s Mother’s Day posting, I would like to share the lessons fatherhood has taught me:
It has been a wonderful and challenging spring, with one child graduating college, another graduating high school and the other two in the throes of teenage angst. So this Father’s Day, 2012, I’m reflecting on a few lessons I’ve learned from 20+ years of being a parent to four great kids.
Patience and Perspective
Does it really matter if a chore gets done NOW, as opposed to 5 minutes from now? When my kids don’t jump on their chores when asked to do them, I try to give them a little room. When they struggle with a school project, I strive to encourage and avoid being frustrated with them. I’ve learned that many lessons come from being patient and giving them room to learn and grow.
Of all the tools at a father’s disposal, this may be the stealthiest and most effective. Not humor at the expense of someone else, but laughing at one’s self, and at the absurdity of the situation. In the midst of the most difficult and frustrating moments with my kids, using a little humor can help diffuse explosive emotions. Humor allows a father to break out of a deadlock, and pull away from the intense emotions- to see that this, too, shall pass. Nothing lasts forever, including the most challenging of childhood tantrums.
Words and Self Control
Carefully choosing what I say in the heat of a situation is so hard- but so important. A loose word thrown out can hurt feelings, and no amount of damage control afterwards really mends the wounds. Children learn from what they experience and observe of their father’s behavior.
My dear wife, and mother to the brood, is an essential partner in my evolution as a dad. She teaches me so much, helping me understand our kids and the impact I have on them. Sometimes she makes me angry by telling the painful truth of the consequences of my words and actions. Thanks to her, I am a far better father.
I still don’t have this Fatherhood thing all worked out, and I keep making mistakes. But I love my kids and figure that as long as I keep trying my best, not giving up, then I’m doing alright. Thanks to my kids for making me proud – I love you all. And thanks to my dad – I love you for never giving up on being my father.