Taken from an blog by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, a father of six children.
Being a father can be a wonderful thing, once you get past all the gross stuff, all the stressful events, the loss of privacy, and the bewildering numbers of ways you can screw it up.
But other than those few things, fatherhood is wonderful.
Every dad has fears that he won’t be a great dad, that he’ll mess up, that he’ll be a failure. It comes with the job.
Unfortunately, what doesn’t come with the job is a simple set of instructions. As guys, we often will skip the manual, figuring we can wing it … but when things go wrong, it’s nice to have that manual to go back to. Fatherhood needs that manual.
What follows are the fatherhood tips. I hope they’ll help you become an even more awesome dad than you already are — feel free to refer back to them as a cheat sheet, anytime you need some help.
5. Cherish your time with them.
One thing that will amaze you is how quickly the years will fly. My oldest daughter is 15, which means I have three short years with her before she leaves the nest. That’s not enough time! The time you have with them is short and precious — make the most of it. Spend as much time as you can with them, and make it quality, loving time. Try to be present as much as possible while you’re with them too — don’t let your mind drift away, as they can sense that.
4. Don’t look at anything as “mom” duties — share responsibilities.
While there are a lot of good things from our grandparents’ day that we should bring back, the traditional dad/mom split of parenting duties isn’t one of them. Some men still look at certain duties as “mom” duties, but don’t be one of those dads. Get involved in everything, and share the load with your baby mama. Changing diapers, giving baths, getting them dressed, even feeding them (you can give them breast milk in a bottle).
3. A little patience goes a long way.
As a parent, I know as well as anyone how easy it is to lose your patience and temper. However, allowing yourself to react in anger or frustration is not the best thing for your child, and you must remember that. That means you need to take a deep breath, or a walk, when you start to lose your patience. Practice patience with your child and your relationship, and your child, will benefit over the long run.
2. Don’t be the absent dad.
The biggest mistake that dads make are not being there for their children. Always, always set aside time each day and each week for your children. Don’t let anything violate this sacred time. And at those big moments in your child’s life — a soccer game, a music recital, a science fair — do you very best to be there. It means the world.
1. Model good behavior.
It’s one thing to tell you child what she should do, but to say one thing and do another just ruins the message. In fact, the real lesson your child will learn is what you do. Your child is always watching you, to learn appropriate behavior. Excessive drinking or smoking or drug use by parents, for example, will become ingrained in the child’s head. Bad manners, inconsiderate behavior, sloppy habits, anger and a negative attitude, laziness and greed … all these behaviors will rub off on your child. Instead, model the behavior you’d like your child to learn.