On the 20th of February 2012, my eldest daughter will turn 14. Both my daughters are amazing young ladies, who love God, love their parents, have a great outlook on life and love being involved in the church. They are the greatest delights of my life.
As I reflect over the last 14 years, I think I have learnt a thing or two about being a Dad and whilst I am way short of being a perfect parent, I thought I would share some of what I have learnt thus far on this journey.
1) Being consistent is an underrated hallmark of great parenting. Being consistent in your values, your discipline, you Christianity, your expectations, and your love for your children.
2) Model how to do life well. If you want your children to do life well, show them.
3) Understand that more is caught then taught when it comes to your children. They will pick up your attitudes, your behaviors, your good and bad habits, your vocabulary
4) Encouragement is like high powered Vitamins to your child’s self esteem. And its impossible for them to overdose on it.
5) Verbalized your love. And verbalized it often. Use terms like I love you, I am so proud of you, I appreciate you.
6) Physical touch is most important. In this age of being politically correct, some Dads don’t touch their kids for fear of upsetting the PC Police. Obviously in an appropriate way, hug your kids and hug them often. I don’t have sons, but both my daughters like a little bit of a wrestle with their Dad. Physical Touch is very important. Did I mention hug often.
7) If you want your children to love God, then you love God passionately. Let your kids catch you reading the bible and praying. Talk about God in the family home, display your faith in everyday life and when you get blessed, tell your kids about it.
8) If you want your children to love Church, then you love church and be involved in it. Never speak negatively about the church in their presence.
9) Love their Mum. Let them see how a real man treats a lady. Let them see you romance her.
10) Teach your children how to manage money. If you can equip them with the knowledge of the principals of great money management, you will be giving them a very important skill in life.
11) Trust your children. I have explained to my girls, that the default setting of their life to me is that they have my trust. Whilst they behave in a manner that doesn’t break that trust – and I explain to them what that means – they will have certain liberties like being able to go out with friends etc, no curfew (as long as I know what time they are coming home). But if they break that trust by lying, seeing MA movies, drinking, smoking, swearing, being disobedient, etc, then their world will shrink to the size of our house.
12) Don’t set rules on dating. I don’t have any hard and fast rules on being a certain age before my daughters can date. However as they do start dating, (and my eldest has), I want to be involved and use the experience to guide, instruct and encourage around the concept of relationships.
13) Use Valentines Day strategically. If you have daughters, make Valentines day special for them. I have bought each of my daughters flowers and a card every year since they were born. I have even sent flowers to the classroom at their school on Valentines Day. I want to show them how a gentleman treats a lady, so if they ever date a jerk, he will be easily spotted.
14) Make your house a destination house. I want my house to be a house that my girls want to bring their friends home to.
15) Make great memories. When your children are adults, what memories will you have made that they will look back on and smile about. Be intentional.
16) Establish great family traditions. Christmas, Easter and Birthday traditions. Also little weekly ones. An example is that on the way to church on a Sunday evening, I always stop and let the girls buy some lollies to eat in church, have done that now for 12 years.
17) Never Discipline in Anger.
18) Teaching your children how to treat others is vey important.
19) Instruct your children how to handle conflict and disappointment.
20) At school, only expect that your children do their best. If they are doing their best and their best gets them a C, then be happy and encourage them.
21) Take lots of photos.
22) Treasure each and every day you have with your children.
23) You make the atmosphere of your home: so be intentional about the atmosphere. Make it one of fun and laughter – make it an incredibly positive environment.
24) Regardless of what you read in the media, saying no to your children won’t destroy them. Never saying no and giving them everything they want is a great way to raise spoilt little kids who believe the world is there to serve them.
25) Intentionally prepare your Children to interact well with life.
26) Celebrate things. In my home, we look for opportunities to celebrate.
27) Pray for your children.
These are a few things that I have learnt about being a dad. It’s one of the greatest honors in life. Hope you found the list helpful in your journey as a parent.
So proud of my Daughters. Love you Lakeisha and Laura.