Day 144: Truth from Truman

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I have found the very best way to advise your children is to find out what they want to do and advise them to do it. – President Harry Truman

This quote from President Truman rings true to me. Not all of the things that interest us will be of interest to our children. It is therefore our job to find out what does interest them. It is only then that we can use our position for good and advise them to follow whatever it is they’re passionate about.

When I was young, I took a great interest in music. Now my mother comes from a very musical family and is a gifted pianist and director. My father, however, is simply a great patron of the arts as it were. But he enjoyed music, though it just wasn’t his personal passion.

He, however, saw my interest in music and made sure to help foster it from a young age. Though he was a pilot for the US Air Force and thus gone out of state or out of the country often, he always made a point to try to be around for my concerts and recitals.

When my mother felt like she had taught me all that she could by yourself as a piano teacher, my father encouraged me to take outside piano lessons and provided the financial support necessary for me to do so. He found out what I wanted to do and he advised me to do it.

It is going to the same for your children. They will only be more excited to pursue the things that they are passionate about if they know you have your full support.

Day 116: How Fatherhood Is Like Shaving

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Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow. ~Reed Markham

This highlights the very reason why I don’t like shaving. There are so many things in life that you work on and see progress over time. Shaving is not one of them. Thankfully, fatherhood is. But the main point of the quote is still valid. It is not enough to be a good father one day and then neglect your duties the next. You must be consistent in being a good father. Your spouse and your children will have problems every day that will need your assistance and support.

I know when I’m tired or sick, shaving never sounds like a good idea. It is much easier to let it slide than when I am feeling well. In the same way there are many days where you don’t feel up to your hundred percent. On these days, it may be extra hard to be a good father. That is why is it a good idea to decide in advance what you think a good father looks like. Write down a few tenants by which you will live and make a decision and commitment to live by them no matter what the circumstances.

These don’t have to be fancy. They can be as simple as “a good father speaks kindly to his children. Or “a good father puts the needs of his family before himself”. Whatever you are, if you have made up your mind beforehand, it will not be as difficult when faced with the decision.

And if you had a bad day, just like when you miss a day of shaving, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just get the razor and start again.

Day 81: Raising Owen

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As I begin my ninth month of being a father, it occurred to me recently what my favorite part of raising my son Owen has been. He challenges me, outsmarts me, annoys me, and completely changes the way I go about my life — but more specifically, he invites me to think as a child again.

For people who know me, this does not sound out of the ordinary: as part of my work, I play video games, watch film, and engage with a boatload of material related to mass media on the Internet. Doing all of those “fun” activities with the mindset of an academic analyzing an artwork does not always translate into the innocent fun of my childhood, however, even if I do greatly enjoy them.

What I had not had the opportunity to do until Owen was crawling and actively playing was to do things like make animal noises at another person, or play with stuffed animals for extended periods of time. Doing things that are normally considered strange for an almost-thirty year old man, like rolling cars on the floor while pretending to honk them at someone, playing with puppets that all have different singing voices (performed by me), or inventing new tunes on a four-note xylophone that plays only a major chord has reminded me of how much fun it is to be a child.

I hope that Owen enjoys his childhood as much as I enjoyed mine — for now, he continues to invite me to see the world through the eyes of a younger person, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

-Ryan Thompson

Day 74: Easy to Be King

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“It is very easy to be a military strategist, a mercenary, or a king, but much harder to be a father.”
― Nadia ScrievaTides of Tranquility

I have done things in my life for which I had received welcome attention. I’ve been on stage for thousands of people at a time, and had people come ask me to autograph my books. Getting to this point took a lot of work, but they pale in comparison to my ongoing efforts at become a better father.

While both my writing and singing have brought me great satisfaction, it is nothing like the satisfaction I feel seeing my children grow and progress and feeling the genuine love they return to me every day.

Being a good day takes a lot of work, over a long period of time. People might like a book I’ve written and stay with it for a while, or clap and cheer at the end of a concert, but my work as a father will shape the lives of my children for the rest of their lives for good or ill, and then shape what kind of parents they will be.

Question:  Does being a father bring you satisfaction? Why or why not? What can you do to increase your satisfaction with fatherhood?

Day 67: The Father Behind the Father

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“Behind every great man is a man greater, his father.”
― Habeeb Akande

We need to give credit where it is due. Many of us owe the people we become to our parents. This isn’t to say that every great father had a great father, but it is much more likely. Sometimes, even those with great fathers do not continue the tradition.

It is difficult to tell what your children might become. Young Albert Einstein did not excel in school in his youth, and his father probably did not imagine that his son would one day be one of the most famous scientists in history, whose name is now a synonym for ‘genius’.

Be the kind of man now that will deserve the credit later.

Question: What potential do you see in your children? What can you do to foster that potential?

Day 60: Forget Batman

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“Forget Batman: when I really thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be my dad.”
― Paul AsayGod on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big Screen Batman Can Teach Us about God and Ourselves

I agree—my dad is a superhero. It is one thing for heroes to take on big villains and save the city or the world in movies and comic books. It is another kind of heroism to stick around day in and day out, doing the hard jobs of raising children.

It is also easy to hold up caped crusaders and men of steel, but not easy to hold up the household heroes. It is sad that good dads don’t often get the recognition they deserve, but that should not be a reason not to be one. Anyway, it would probably be tough to make an exciting comic of “Dad Picks His Kids Up from School” and stay tuned for next week’s installment “Dad Folds Laundry: Return of the Mismatched Socks.”

As a dad, you need to be thinking about what kind of example you set for your children. Even Superman had a dad growing up, even Jesus Christ had an earthly father who taught him his trade. Your sons and daughters might grow up to be superheroes themselves.

Question: What can I do to be the best role model I can be for my kids?

Day 53: Dad vs. Father

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“That anyone could father a child, but a real man chooses to be a dad.”
― J. SterlingThe Perfect Game

It is true that the act of becoming a father is not beyond most men’s capability.  This is merely a physical, genetic fact that can be tested and proven.  Becoming a dad, on the other hand, is a choice, one that requires both sacrifice and dedication. Bringing a child into the world is a serious matter, and a man who wishes to be a dad should take full responsibility for the act of creating life.

Question: What can I do to become more of a “dad” to my children?

Day 32: Six Theories

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“Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.”
― John Wilmot

If you don’t have kids or only have one, here’s something you will learn as soon as the second one arrives: no two kids are alike. Even if they are a combination of the same genetic material, each one comes out with a different personality, strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes.  If our children are all going to be different in significant ways, why should our parenting be the same for all of them?

If nothing else, each new child will teach you something new about parenting.

Let’s take my two sons for example.

My first son has always been a cautious kid. He always looked three times before he leapt. He is curious and quirky and is always singing a song. He wants things always in a routine and falls apart when he doesn’t get it. He has an incredible memory and can often bring up events that were months past in great detail. He loves being teased and messed with.

My second son is a fearless little guy. He’s always climbing, exploring and tumbling around. He could care less about routine, and often likes to push the boundaries of bedtime.  He likes to go off on his own and has his own favorite personal spaces. He takes offense if you tease him. Like his brother, he loves music and dances around whenever he hears it.

Take any advice you hear on fatherhood as just that: advice. Really the only rules should be flexibility and getting to know the needs of your children.

Day 25: Nurturing Children

 

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“I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway…let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Raising children is a bit like raising plants. They require just the right amount of care and attention, but have to do the actual growing themselves. Their environment must be fostered, their needs seen to, but nothing about their growth can be forced. You can’t yell at a plant to grow faster or try to pull it up out of the ground to be taller without damaging the plant. Only patience and constant nourishment will do this job.

In fact, if you give a plant too much water and sunlight, it can harm or even kill the plant. Similarly, in order to provide the best for our children, we should given them a good home like fertile soil, and provide for their physical and emotional needs, like sunlight and water. Then, we must let our children grow for themselves. Smothering your children without letting them make and learn from their own choices can actually harm their growth.

Question: What can I do to allow my children to make and learn from their own decisions? Are there any areas in which I am smothering my children?

Day 18: What Happens When You Stop Yelling

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Isn’t it strange that we sometimes end up treating the people we love the most the worst? Life gets tense and it is easy to lose your cool and raise your voice to your kids. I’d never snap at a coworker or a person on the street like that.

I found these interesting article that explains one person’s experience with realizing why she was yelling at her kids and how she overcame it.

http://living.msn.com/family-parenting/mom-to-mom-blog-post/?post=afadc7fd-f21e-482b-b837-7343d272e915

Question: What can you do to help yourself keep your cool around your kids?