You know, sometimes I write these insightful wisdom filled blogs in order to share some humor and at other times, like this, I write them to fulfill my duty to humanity and reach out to the people of this world. You know, shine a light. Hey, you call it a flicker in a darkroom, I call it shine a light.
I suppose now you’re going to ask me what exactly qualifies me for writing a blog on the subject matter of this title. Glad you asked. I am one. I’m a stepdad too and all three combined kids are still alive, clothed, eat and are afforded other various luxuries in this life.
Secondly, I had a great man for a father. A rare case of dad who could handle dad and mom duties when necessary. A dad who valued honesty and integrity and embodied it. Not perfect, but a great dad and now a best friend.
I personally believe, as I’ve shared before in 12 Steps to Not Suck at Being a Man, that a father’s very basic responsibility is monetary provision, food and shelter. For me, this isn’t debatable and there is no excuse otherwise. However, meeting a basic step to not suck at being a man doesn’t make you a father.
Fathers have a responsibility to instill stability, self-worth, confidence, discipline and the model for what a daughter should expect from her future husband and what a man should expect to be for his future wife. Fathers are also the most important influence in developing a child’s social skills and mitigating possible behavioral issues both early on and later in life. (For more reading on this seewww.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/style/the-role-of-fathers-with-daughters-and-sons/)
Judging from today’s society, I’m going to go out on a limb and make the rather sarcastic assumption that there are many, many fathers in our day and age who suck at being fathers. I’m here to help men. With these simple steps we’ll make sure you have some guidelines to help you avoid the “YOU SUCK” list. (Please note that I have contemplated my harsh use of the word “suck” to apply to people who struggle with certain skillsets. I have considered all my Christian friends and their Pharisee-like judgment of a Christian man using such words. Get over it. I’ve decided I enjoy it, it’s funny and you need to relax both so we can enjoy this together and so I don’t have to blog about you.)
Without further ado, let’s get on with our list of 12 Steps to Not Suck at Being a Father:
Give your child your time. They don’t make any more of it and your child needs yours. Get off Facebook, put down the laptop and quit blogging, leave work or anything else that gets in your way and spend time with your children. Forts, movies, walks, playing in the park, pushing them in a swing, video games and on and on. Time, just give them your time.
Help your child mold their values and beliefs based on the values and beliefs you model. This goes one of two ways, either you model and teach your children values and beliefs or the world does. Look at it like this, either you teach your child about the real world or they’ll seek out the MTV world. So, if you’re okay with your children coming home from their public school and believing they’re just high-end monkeys free to have sex as they feel with whom they feel, choose their own gender, use whatever restroom makes them feel better and altogether do whatever they decide suits their mood then by all means don’t follow this step. WAKE UP MAN!
Teach your children work ethic. Let’s face it, unless you’re one of the rising number of welfare entitled, freeloading moochers or fraudulent collectors of disability that leach off of the hard work of others then you too understand, lazy people suck. Hard work is important. You teach your children the value of hard work and even if they choose the wrong path or make some bad choices in life they’ll always have the ability to pick themselves up and meet their own basic needs. Unfortunately, lazy people abound in this country. They’re in the work place, our places of higher education, churches and any other place people are found. The bright side of this is that it’s not hard to excel if you know the value of hard work.
Teach your sons to value women and your daughters about the value that should be placed on them (Yes, this was covered in 2 but deserved it’s own). Let’s not kid ourselves here, I bet you can think of several people right now that came from backgrounds with abusive fathers who are now abusive to their wives. I bet you can also think about women you know that dealt with absentee fathers or fathers who didn’t focus on or understand how to instill self-worth or value into them. It’s painful. You know those women because you have to block them from your newsfeed. You know these men because they’re angry, aggressive jackwagons that can’t see past themselves long enough for the good of others, even when it’s their own child.
Teach your children the value of honesty. Because nobody, not even other liars, like liars. Honesty is the best policy and on an even more serious note tell your child that if they lie their nose will continue to grow longer just like Pinocchio. Make them watch the Disney cartoon version of Pinocchio to reinforce this important lesson.
Teach your children respect. Respect for themselves is vital, but it’s equally important they learn to respect others. No one likes disrespectful children. It will also save you tons of time in trips to the school, parent-teacher conferences, bail money, legal fees and similar side effects of those who don’t understand the value of respect.
Teach your children that real men can show emotion (Yes, maybe my wife lobbied for this one but she’s right). Teach your children that it’s okay if dad has a glass of wine and sheds some tears while watching Lifetime. Just kidding. If you were following me there, slap yourself. Emotion is important though. Children with stone cold emotionless fathers tend to experience many issues early on and long term that stem from this disconnect. Hug your children, show them love, let them see you show affection for your wife. Let them see you react with human feelings that appropriately fit the circumstance.
Let your children see you handle difficulty and adversity the right way. The best way to properly prepare your child for one day handling their own problems, hardships and other bumps in the road is to exemplify this in allowing them to see you walk through hard times. Children don’t always need you to shelter them from reality. They often need you to guide them in how the real world works and how they should respond.
Discipline your children. Yes, it’s work. We covered lazy in number 3. No one likes brats. No one likes unruly children. Even more importantly when you properly discipline your children they learn to be respectful (number 6) and when you teach them self-discipline they can learn to proactively avoid unnecessary hardship by utilizing this virtue.
Teach your children patience. This ties into discipline but is important to breakdown further. We do our children a huge injustice when we fail to teach them that the best things in life require patience and that with patience they can better enjoy the things life has to offer. In addition, we teach our children patience by being patient with them. They’re not perfect, just like we’re not. Don’t heap unfair expectations or standards on your child. Putting too much on a child sets the tone for a child or even an adult who one day collapses under the weight of expectation. Nothing good comes from it. Take a deep breath, calm down and deal with your children from a spirit of grace.
Teach your children to love God. I didn’t include this one as much for the lesson (this one is pretty easy to understand) because even an atheist has a hard time arguing over the tenants of Christ. I included this more because by teaching, I mean modeling. Don’t beat your children over the head with “thee” and “though”. Don’t act like you have it all figured out and that by showing up at church on Sunday and reading your Bible you have achieved some mystical level of ninja Christianity that they should one day attain. Don’t use it to condemn behavior or as a scare-tactic for corrective behavior. I’m saying teach your children to have the eyes of Christ. A heart for the broken and downtrodden, the orphan and widow, the homeless, the least of these. Teach your children to see beyond labels and circumstances and identify and relate to the good in people. Teach them to champion the underdog and rebuke the bully. In other words, anything I’ve missed is more than made up for here. Live it for your kids to see.
I’d love to tell you that I myself have conquered all these, especially number 10. I’ve missed the mark on most if not all of them (especially number 10) at some point in time. That’s not what’s most important here. It’s never too late and we don’t have to be perfect. What we need to remember is that our children are a gift, a blessing. Our children will bring us the greatest joy and perhaps pain (hats off to mom’s who take the cake on the pain) in our life. More importantly though is that our children will grow to reflect what we modeled in their lives and be a living reminder of our influence. Let’s do all we can to stay mindful of this and equip our children to be a generation of conquerors. If you see the same world I do then you know we need to do all we can to insure we help equip more and more children to turn the tide back to a world that embraces moral truth.
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