“Since human fatherhood, as a reflection of the Fatherhood of God, was designed to be the pillar of the family, the disappearance of esteem for fatherhood has led to the collapse of that pillar and to the disintegration of the family.”
― Joseph A. Cirrincione, St. Joseph, Fatima and Fatherhood
There are so many distractions from fatherhood in our modern world. Unsure economic climates provide increasing pressure on men who provide for their families to throw themselves into their work. At times, I have worked multiple jobs just to make sure we had enough to buy food and pay rent. When I was in college, I worked a graveyard shift and then went to school full time so that I barely had any time remaining. I only had brief moments with my young son.
Providing for your family is a noble thing, but being a provider is more than just bringing home a paycheck. Your family has emotional needs as well, needs that can be best fulfilled by a father and a mother working together. I found that even though I was tired, and wanted to either sleep or play video games, I needed to make it a priority to take the little time I had and spend it wisely. I looked for little times to play with my son, to do an extra feeding, or even to get up with him in the middle of the night on weekends. Even if you don’t have a large quantity of time, you can make it high quality time.
Question: What can I do to find additional quality time with my kids even if it is short?
I know that before I became a father, I didn’t know if I was ready to be one. I did have the advantage of having been raised as the oldest of eight children, and so having young children around wasn’t a completely foreign concept. I had changed diapers, dressed and fed children, and had logged many hours of tending them growing up.
Then again, I always had the safety net of my parents. Now, this child was going to be my own. The buck would stop with me.
I found this lighthearted site the other day that helps you realize whether or not you are ready to put up with the ups and downs of parenthood.
Follow the link and see what you’re in for: http://fatherhood.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=fatherhood&cdn=parenting&tm=13&f=20&tt=14&bt=1&bts=14&zu=http%3A//www.thelaboroflove.com/forum/nick/parenthood.html
Question: How many do you think you can handle? These are only the first steps… What tests would you add to these?
For my last birthday, my wife came up with an amazing idea. After she had given me all the rest of presents, she handed me a coupon booklet that she had created for me.
This wasn’t your typical collection of clippings that save you 65 cents on cereal or gets you 2 for 1 peanut butter.
Instead she gave me a whole coupon book full of nice things that she would do for me. For example:
Redeemable for your favorite home-cooked meal of your choice.
Redeemable for a free Saturday where you can go out and do whatever you want.
Redeemable for a free day of sleeping in.
And many more. She got very creative and I can tell you, I love just knowing that I have them. It is a gift of giving of herself, rather than a new tie that I’ll probably spill BBQ sauce on, or a computer game I’ll play for a few weeks and then complete.
Question: What sort of things could you give your spouse that would be meaningful to her?
After Adam, Noah can be seen as the second father of mankind, as all of us can trace our linage back to him. Noah is also an excellent example of fatherly qualities. In world that was sinking into wickedness, and in the face of being constantly mocked, he managed to protect his family, keeping them righteous. As fathers, we will have to protect our children from similar influences in today’s world.
For many years, he preached to wicked people who not only did not listen, but turned him into a laughingstock. He kept his family together through what must have been one of the craziest family trips of all time, and when they stepped off the ark into a clean, new world, he established mankind’s second chance.
Question: How can we pattern our lives after Noah’s righteous example?
If your kids are like my kids, you spend much of your parenting energy being a motivational speaker. Why not try some of the following tactics?
- 10. Scatter gummy bears on the floor nearby.
- 9. Unpack your old ukulele and make up a ‘good helper’ song.
- 8. “If you don’t, Mommy and I will start smooching in front of you.”
- 7. Post embarrassing pictures of them on the family web site until the work is finished.
- 6. Tell them it involves paint … and a shovel.
- 5. Turn up the music WAY LOUD.
- 4. Promise not to rub their toys under your arm pits.
- 3. Remind them about the ancient proverb: “Thou that helpest will not incur the wrath of revelation, nor grow the spines of itchiness upon thy back.”
- 2. Perform your trusty tap dance routine.
- 1. Shameless bribery.
Question: What other methods do you use to encourage your children to help out around the house? It is very easy to resort to yelling or becoming frustrated, but with a little imagination, you can find other ways to motivate your kids.
Changing diapers is just a fact of fatherhood. It’s not a pretty thing, but bear in mind, it’s kind of like paying your debt to society—somebody did it for you. It is also a labor of love. You are doing something for someone who really can’t do it for themselves.
All babies are a little different. Some will contentedly sit in a dirty diaper for hours, while others will wail at the first sign of wetness. Part of staying sane is figuring out your baby’s rhythms.
To avoid mess and additional comfort for your baby, don’t let them stay in there too long. A diaper can only take so much, and leaving a baby in a single diaper too long can cause a painful diaper rash.
Diapers come in various sizes that don’t follow the other sizes for baby clothes. They start with “premie”, which will only be worn by very small babies. Most will start with “newborn” and then 1-6. The best way to figure out is to look at the suggested weights on the diaper box.
You’ll want to experiment with different brands of diapers to find out what gives you the best balance between fit, dryness and price.
Need more info? Check out these tutorials.
Amazon.com runs a program called “Amazon Mom” (you can think of it as “Amazon Dad” if you like) , which is a subscription service that lets you save 20% on diapers and wipes with free two-day shipping. Find out more about it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/mom/signup
My young son loves the TV show “Blues Clues”, thanks to the wonder of streaming Netflix. The game they play there is simple: one person places three clues around the house and the other person has to guess the meaning.
I play a modified version with my son before we go out to do a fun activity. I hide clues on three objects around the house and have him seek them out, and let him figure it out. You can cut out shapes from construction paper or find some other way to mark your clues.
One clue on the car keys
One clue on the freezer
One clue on my wallet
Put them all together, and it spells a trip to the ice cream store.
What other clues could you put together with your kids?
“Abba is not Hebrew, the language of liturgy, but Aramaic, the language of home and everyday life … We need to be wary of the suggestion … that the correct translation of Abba is ‘Daddy.’ Abba is the intimate word of a family circle where that obedient reverence was at the heart of the relationship, whereas Daddy is the familiar word of a family circle from which all thoughts of reverence and obedience have largely disappeared … The best English translation of Abba is simply ‘Dear Father.”
― Thomas A. Smail, The Forgotten Father
Everything in the life of Jesus Christ was meant to serve as an example to us. As such, the relationship between Jesus and His Father should serve as an example of the relationship between a father and son. It is vital to realize that Jesus had the “obedient reverence” for His Father based on mutual trust, respect, and love. In short, His Father was worthy of respect.
How wonderful it would be if each of your children would think of you as “Dear Father”. It is something that will not come without effort—you will have to live in a way worthy of your children’s respect.
Question: How do I need to change my life in order to be worthy of the respect of my children?
Dealing with the level of technology we do today is not something generations before us faced to such an overwhelming degree. What might have seemed like Star Trek technology 20 years ago is readily accessible today. Captain Kirk could only wish he had an iPhone!
Technology can be a great thing, even in parenting. My children especially love to use my iPhone to take pictures and then look at them afterwards. They pose doing something funny and then I snap a picture of them and vice versa. There are all sorts of educational games and interactive storybooks for smart phones that can be used to facilitate time with your children.
Contrary to how it may seem, the human brain can only truly concentrate on one thing at once. If you are checking your email, getting an update on sport scores, or updating your status, you can’t really pay attention to your kids. I’m not saying that you should all throw your phones down the nearest storm drain, but each of us needs to be vigilant.
I make it a point to set aside a time, for me, right after work, in which I turn my phone off and concentrate completely on my children. I let them tell me what they want to do, and fully invest my time in them. My kids are so entertaining most days, they put any app to shame.
“The best gift you can give to your kids is a happy marriage.”
― Ricky Shetty
At first glance, it might seem strange to include a category about becoming a better spouse on a blog about fatherhood. If you look at it in light of the quote above, it beings to make more sense.
First, treating your spouse kindly will create a positive atmosphere in your home, which your children will pick up on. That supportive atmosphere will make your home feel like a haven, instead of a continuation of all the challenges they have to face out in the world.
Second, your children are always watching you and learning from your behavior. I think it’s pretty funny when my young son says something in just the way that I do. It also scares me to death. I don’t have a choice, but to be an example to my children, and many aspects of their personalities from the way they talk to the way they treat other people will be influenced how they see me treating my wife.
Finally, if you treat your spouse kindly, she more likely to treat your children more kindly as well. How many times do we take out our frustrations with someone or something else on a loved one? They all deserve better than that.
Every Friday will feature a post about being a better spouse, so that you can make these goals a reality.
Question: What other fatherhood advantages could you get from improving your marriage?