By Mark Allen, father of three boys aged 14, 11 and 6. Raised by a single mother since age 3 and trying to pass on lessons learnt through his own mistakes. Very aware of the big city differences and challenges faced by fathers, and with a real heart for single moms. Find him on Twitter.
You might not have all the answers when they ask the questions, but you have experience, lean on it.
I have learnt to learn from my kids. They will say to me, “Hey dad, just chill”, after a long days work. And I do.
When you watch them play sport, don’t try and live your unfulfilled dreams through your kids. Expose them to a wide variety of sports/arts or pastimes, let them make their own choices and support them completely, don’t push them.
The most important thing lacking in this electronic age, is mindfulness.
When your kids talk to you, or walk up to you when the TV is on, or you are on your phone, tablet or laptop.. do you put everything aside and really listen, spend time in the moment, in their moment, do they feel that, for the time that they need, you belong to them? Or have you turned the TV down but are still watching the cellphone is on the couch next to you, and you keep glancing at it.. When you are at a restaurant with the family, are you really there?
What are you signalling to them? The match is more important than you, the next email or phone call I get is more important than you? I will give you as long as it takes for the next try to be scored or email to come through, and we wonder why we have a generation of children, searching for answers and acceptance in all the wrong places.
We are in a crisis, with a fatherless generation wandering around malls with cash, looking for the security and comfort that they should be getting at home, or with family, at the mall, together.
Please dads, be engaged, and when it gets tough? When you have had a party the night before a big event that your kid is involved in, get up early and support them. Remember its what you signed up for.
Do you give your kids the same attention and urgency as you do your work, if not, your work is meaningless.
We are raising future leaders, lets give them the best chance that we can.