Being a Dad is the toughest and most challenging task in the world. But it is also well worth it because it is the most rewarding thing ever.
One thing we so often forget is our children have not yet been tarnished or desensitized by the world. This is one of the greatest gifts we have been given. Our children look at us in astonishment each day on how much we know. To them we know everything and we are their everything. But is the everything you are to them the everything you should be?
I have long said, “Always be your kid’s Hero” so here are 6 steps on how you can do just that:
1. Be You.
Don’t get caught up in trying to be like other parents or the cool dad. Be the father you want to be, they don’t know any better and won’t love you any less. Who cares if you are not as skinny as Johnny’s dad, put on your swimsuit and go swimming. Who cares if you don’t have a convertible like Suzie’s dad, jump in the minivan and take them on a joy ride anyway. Don’t wait, give yourself daily reminders to be the father you want to be.
2. Be Engaged.
Listen to your kids and know what they are feeling and thinking. This is a challenge, because as parents we “hear” our kids, but a lot of the time we are not “listening” to them. Remember their vocabulary, sentence structure and knowledge of how to communicate is VASTLY different from ours. Too often we hear what they are saying but miss the meaning behind it or the true message they are trying to convey. Be patient and show them you care.
3. Be a Builder.
Teach your kids it’s ok to try new things and fail. They don’t have to be perfect. Let your kids know that you are in it with them. Encourage them and build their confidence. Connect your family together and with others.
4. Be a Memory Maker.
Whether its sports, tea parties, weekends away, playing at the park, road trips or vacations, make time to make memories. The value in doing things together, even small things is unparalleled. Take your kids with you when are just running to the store or doing the things that you love. You might be surprised how much fun you can make a 5 min car ride. Memories will last forever, make sure you are making the right ones!
5. Live Each Day Like It’s The Full Final Day.
There is a movie called About Time. It’s about a father and son who can travel back in time within their own life. The father gives the son the advice of living every day twice. Live it the first time with all of the stress and concerns that tend to blind us of the wonder of each day. Then, live it a second time soaking up all of the joyful details we often miss. The son eventually stops doing that, choosing to, as he says, “enjoy (each day) like it was the full final day of (his) extraordinary, ordinary life…and to relish the remarkable ride.” This clip of the movie’s final scene gives a picture of enjoying the small moments.
6. Show Up.
A great man once told me “90% of being a good Dad is just showing up, No multitasking, No smartphones all they need is your attention.” I am fortunate that this brilliant man who said this was my father and he lived that philosophy. Some of the greatest moments of my childhood were not big lavish gifts or things that cost a lot of money. In fact they were not things at all, they were moments. Moments like my dad being my little league coach or an impromptu camping trip. Moments like driving around looking at Christmas lights or taking me to the drive in. Moments like just playing catch in the back yard. Moments where he was just there. As a father of 3 I try and live this same philosophy, I didn’t know it at the time but this was one of the greatest lessons my father taught me. Thank you dad, and Happy Father’s Day!
In the end there are a million ways to be a great Dad, and following these 6 steps will have you well on your way to being your kid’s hero. Please remember one thing along the way and that is, the little things do matter! Whether you know it or not, your little ones are always watching and listening. You need to ask yourself what do they see? What did they hear? They want to grow up to be just like you, so be the hero they need you to be!