Good parenting is probably one of the most important goals in our life. But most people have little understanding of how to achieve it. I have a similar story.
I have a third child on the way, and I still wonder if I’m doing the right thing in this or that case, if I’m not lazy in my communication with my children, if I’m not creating problems for them in the future by imposing my ideals.
Without claiming to be true, I will try to tell you about my rules of upbringing. I should say at once that many theses are not mine, they were collected by me in a “piggy bank of principles” from different people: friends, teachers, doctors, psychologists, something I picked up from literature, but all of them were tested and adapted by me.
What does it mean to be a good father?
The most important thing is to be an example to your child. Remember: children “soak up like a sponge” everything they see and hear around them. And if you say one thing and do another, they will do exactly the same.
The second important principle of good fatherhood is communication. Try not only to tell your child what to do and how to do it, but also to help him. Try to be a friend, not a boss. Become the kind of dad with whom it is a sincere mutual joy to talk to, and with whom it is easy and simple to do everything in the world.
The third principle of good fatherhood is discipline. As practice shows, dads have a much greater influence on their children in this area than moms do. And this means that you have an increased responsibility in this area of parenting.
A clear daily schedule is the key to a child’s healthy psyche. I’m not saying that sticking to a schedule will make a child perfect, but I’m sure that a solid schedule strengthens a child’s emotional stability. Having a clear understanding of what follows creates order in a child’s worldview. Children by themselves are very quick to get caught up in something and ordering life events calms their psyche. A solid routine will also help to simplify your life, you will be able to plan events ahead.
The fourth principle is to be strong and confident. Children are very sensitive to your weaknesses. I don’t know any bigger manipulators than they are. 🙂 Sensing your weakness, children will press on your “pain point” without any remorse. The more doubts about the firmness of your position, the more tricks. Don’t give them even a chance to be convinced that your position is not firm and can be influenced.
Being a good dad also means being considerate and attentive. Unfortunately, because of our busy schedules at work, we can’t always give our children enough attention. Nevertheless, we should try to do so. If you have a few minutes to spare, go into your child’s room, ask what he is doing, what you can help him with.
The most difficult and challenging activities need to become a habit. It will take tremendous work in the beginning, but then you will be rewarded for your patience with toys put away before bedtime, teeth brushed on time, a bag packed for school, etc.
Remember: your children are your allies
I know many families where children are treated in a purely paternalistic way (“I’m smart, you’re not”). I think this is wrong. The problem is that such a paternal position can disrupt the child’s psyche and lead to the situation where he will stop respecting you and run away from home at the first chance.
You don’t have to talk to your child as if he were a “feeble-minded creature,” but you don’t have to ingratiate yourself. I don’t try to choose other words when I talk to my children. This allows them to appreciate my treating them as equals. They are usually sensitive to the change in manner of communication. Before you know it, they will adapt to you in this way as they get older, and your conversations with them will become purely “ritualistic”.
Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes
There are no perfect men or perfect fathers. So, if you’ve made a mistake, just admit it. There is no need to look like saints or ideal in the eyes of children. They see for themselves, and admitting your weakness will not diminish your authority. They will appreciate your honesty.
Be strict, but fair
Paternal upbringing differs from maternal upbringing in that the father is stricter. It is nature’s way: someone has to be gentle with children, and someone has to teach them discipline. If children are not taught responsibilities and duties from a young age, they will grow up weak and dependent on society.
But everything is good in moderation. Excessive severity can lead to anger and irritability of the child. It is necessary to distinguish between “I am strict with you because you have not done what you promised” and “I am strict because you deserve it”.
Always apologize for being harsh or showing excessive emotion. I don’t think you should yell at children or get annoyed. They sometimes deserve it to the fullest extent. But if you overreact, the best thing to do is just apologize.
Don’t be a perfectionist
The desire to raise prodigies instead of raising children is a fairly common problem in today’s society. Psychologists believe that in this way parents compensate for their failures in life (“if I didn’t achieve it, the child will”).
Alas, we must admit that our influence on children’s super abilities is very, very limited. Simply put: Enrolling a child in an Olympic Reserve school does not mean that he will necessarily become an Olympic athlete, nor will attending a prestigious business school make him a genius entrepreneur.
How we love to compare our children with other people’s, how we stress over the fact that this one went earlier, that one started talking, the one next door is already reading, a classmate knows two languages. Do not forget that everything is strictly individual, and many skills can develop at completely different times. Calm down and don’t terrorize your children by trying to bring them back to “normal”.
It is possible and necessary to criticize a child for failing in school. What you definitely shouldn’t do is criticize for lack of super abilities. Allow your child to determine his or her own talents and destiny.
Likewise with the behavior and upbringing of your child. Do not burn with shame if you find faults in your child, which in your understanding does not fit with the good upbringing. Digging in your memory, you will probably find two or three stories from your childhood that you are terribly ashamed of even now. Your child did something like that. He, like you at one time, is “testing this life”. Sometimes an understanding of “what you can and can’t do” cannot be learned from someone else’s experience.
Here are some more examples of what a father should NOT do:
- It is useless to teach a child something that is completely absent from the family culture. If you don’t read, your child is unlikely to like reading. If you smoke, it makes no sense to lecture your child about the dangers of smoking;
- Sometimes what we think of as care and attention goes sideways for the child himself. I didn’t know where clean shirts and socks came from until I was 17 (thanks a lot to my mom). I suspect I didn’t look my best during my first time on my own;
- Don’t try to let your child always decide everything for himself, in an attempt to instill independence in him. His psyche cannot yet withstand such a load of responsibility. But it is quite possible to entrust him with household and personal matters. Whether to move to another school with stronger English is clearly your question. The choice of clothing for the holiday is only your advice, he can express his own preferences;
- Punishing children is the easiest process, but this action is the most insidious. You don’t know for sure how the child will react to it. By committing a misdemeanor, the child evaluates the equivalent of punishment for it, the next time he or she will decide in one or another favor. Sometimes a simple understanding that it will upset you works much more effectively;
- Don’t pry into your child’s soul and turn it inside out. He should have secrets from us, his own personal space. All these electronic diaries and text messages with grades make him very vulnerable. As the principal of my son’s school said when criticizing these electronic innovations, a child should have a chance to get a “D” and lose the diary and correct it in the next few days.
As you can see, in order to become a good father you have to prepare thoroughly. Sometimes it’s not clear who is raising who. 🙂 If you want to influence your child, you also have to change your bad habits. It’s time to say, “Thank you, son, I’m a much better person now that you’re here!”.
Get your child into sports
Sports is one of the best and fastest ways to explain to a child the algorithm to achieve their goals.
It’s very difficult to just ask a child to practice. It’s quite a tedious activity, and if he has no interest, it’s useless. But it is possible to ignite that interest. Participate in all kinds of starts. Demonstrate your own interest. Perhaps the desire to raise your child properly will encourage you to run and compete as well.
At heart, we all want the best for our children. We also all think we are good parents. But let’s answer ourselves honestly: “Is that what our kids think?”.
The problem is that very often we “overreach” in our desire to make children better. Sometimes we become selfish, trying to “cram” five classes, tutors, sports, playing the piano and dancing into the child.
We are willing to do whatever it takes to get a child into a prestigious school. As a result, our children are constantly overloaded under the pressure of tests, additional requirements and our expectations. And all for what? For their competitiveness? I doubt it. More likely, we’ll end up with exhausted, mentally and physically exhausted kids. Is that what we wanted?
Accept your child’s abilities “as they are”. Very soon you will notice your child’s talents and inclination for something. And that’s where need your inclusion, that’s where the emphasis should be placed. This will be a competitive advantage of your kid.
Don’t be ashamed of your feelings. It’s nonsense that boys have to be manly and don’t need affection. The words “I love you”, “I really need you”, will never be superfluous. And your hugs will give your child more than all your words about caring for him daily.
Always think about the reasons behind your child’s actions. They may be on the surface, or they may be deep inside. But before you react, analyze whether you understand everything about his motives.
I read in some book that young children lack the skill to switch attention. We ask them to stop watching the cartoon and go to dinner, but they don’t respond. They don’t pay attention. We are annoyed, we start to raise our voice, turn off the screen. The baby cries, it’s even more annoying. But the thing is, he just does not know how! You don’t scold a three-year-old for not reading, do you?
One last thing: without noticing it, we copy our parents’ attitudes toward us. I am, for example, terribly bored playing cars or role-playing games with my children. The lack of such a thing in my childhood prevents me from getting joy out of it today. I literally force myself to pretend to be a dinosaur!
Remember, it’s up to us what kind of relationship our children will have with their children. Loved the words of an acquaintance of mine:
“Do not try to raise a person from a child, he is already a person.”
You just need to try understand that!