A-Z Survival Guide to Life
This is the sixth installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.
Fathering, or being a father. I hope this is way off in the future. Remember when I used to tell you I wasn’t going to let you date until you were 32. I was kind of kidding about that, but not completely.
At some point you are going to become fathers. This post is just to keep in the back of your minds for now. I am sure we will talk about this in future posts, but accomplish those things that you have dreamed of prior to marriage and children. It is not that you can’t achieve great things when married, and when you have children, but it is logistically more difficult. Get everything done that you dream of doing (finishing school, travelling, etc.) because when you become a father, your primary focus should no longer be you, the focus should shift to your child.
In thinking about being a good father, I ask you to refer back to D – Dogs. Many of the guidelines that apply to dogs, will be the backbone of being a good father to a child. I will summarize for you:
Dogs need love – So do children. From the very day they are born, they need love. The may look like little amoebas (that is a direct quote from a person whose name we will not reveal), and they may seem as if they only want to be with their mother, but they still need to develop that trust and bond with you. Spend time with them, even though they may not seem to enjoy it. Both you and your child will appreciate it in the long run.
Dogs need routine – For children, routine is imperative. Routine, routine, routine. A child needs to know exactly what to expect at every moment of the day. Dashing out to Walmart at 9 in the evening, is not a good idea. It will mess everything up. They need to get up at the same time, eat at the same time, bathe at the same time, well, you get the picture. And if this seems like a total imposition to your way of life, the time is not right to have a child.
Dogs need comfort – The same applies to children, and although this seems like a really obvious point, it should apply to everything you do for child. They need to know that they can come to you for everything, and you will be there to comfort them, make things better. Just because they are a child, don’t assume they will mind being less comfortable. Make sure they have a comfy room, with a good bed, cotton sheets (refer to B-Beds) toys to play with (not too many though, or the toys will take over your house), books to read, comfortable shoes, warm baths and the list goes on.
Dogs need guidelines – Oh boy, entire books have been written about providing guidelines for children, so this will be short. A father has to be firm and consistent. As in the case of puppies, guidelines need to be determined and adhered to early in a child’s life. The difference here, is that dogs aims to please, whereas children will go out of their way to drive you completely and utterly batty. Do not give in. Do not shout or scream, because this will do nothing other than show your child they have won the battle, and next time they will continue to do whatever they deem is annoying to you until you shout and scream. The shouting and screaming will become the endpoint of the game. Do not allow your child to learn to whine. Stop this behavior before it even becomes a strategy your child learns and uses regularly. And you will hear about the Terrible Twos, but really it begins at 18 months and will only escalate into the Gruesome Threes and the Really Awful Fours. Honestly I think 4 year olds are the scariest because they think they have everything figured out and they have the vocabulary to make you feel really worn out and irritated. And remember, the toddler years are just training for the teen years. I always say the way your child behaves as a toddler is just a glimpse into what to expect when they become teenagers. And if all else fails, fall back on a child’s ability to think magically (please refer to Frog Powder).
Dogs are insightful – This is very true of children. They have the ability to see through all the fluff, they see the world for what it is. Listen to your children. You will learn from them.
In cookbooks, when baking a cake for instance, the recipe will say something like start with a basic yellow cake and to make a fancier cake add to that basic recipe. You are probably wondering where I am going with this. You have a basic “recipe” for raising a really loving, devoted dog. To raise a child that trusts you, who looks to you for comfort, you must start with that basic recipe and constantly add to it.
If you think all of this sounds like an overwhelming amount of work, well then I have accomplished what I set out to do with this post. Make sure you are ready to become a father, because it isn’t something you can undo. There are no re-do buttons in this deal.
And don’t ever let me hear you say you have to “babysit” your own children, because I will go ballistic.
Oh – and another thing – don’t ever, ever tell your children they are too young to understand something, it is your responsibility to explain it in a way they can understand it. And if you can’t, it is your failure, not theirs.
Enough said (for now)!