Remembering an awesome dad can be very rewarding. Becoming an awesome dad, even better. What does it take to be one of those, you may ask. You’d be surprised how simple it just might be. Does it take time? Oh yeah. But not a lot. Just a few well placed moments with your kids when they are absolutely certain you are there for them. So here are a few tips to help make awesomeness happen.
1. Greet them with love
When you walk in the door after a long day of work, no matter what, take a few minutes and hug those little folks who came into the world because of you. When a daddy swoops up his little girl and gives her hugs and kisses, she’ll giggle with delight. That’s when you say, “How’s my little princess?” and “Do you know how much Daddy loves you?” Same with your little guy with a few tickled ribs added to the mix. And don’t forget, “How’s my little man?” and, “I love you to infinity and beyond!” They’ll eat it up, and then run off and play. Knowing how much their daddy loves them gives them a glow like nothing else can.
How about those adolescent kids? They may not show it, but they need your attention, too. Even if they resist. Just ignore those gotta-act-cool attitudes and go for it. Hug your daughter and tell her how pretty she is, and how lucky you are to be her dad. Forget that she was totally disgusted in her behavior yesterday. It’s now that matters. Let her feel your love. It's the same with your teenage son. He’s yearning for approval from you, but he’ll never let you know. So just give it to him anyway with a side hug, or a fist bump and say, “How you doing, dude?” and “I sure do love you, son.” It will sink into his heart in a way he’ll never forget.
2. Take them with you on an errand
This works best if you do it one child at a time so he or she can be your total focus. It can be as simple as going for a piece of pipe at the local hardware store. That’s also a time when you can teach your child what you’re doing with the item you buy. Learning a few handyman tricks can be valuable information for their future.
Even more than that, as you ride along, listen to your child. Be willing to let them rattle on about anything they want to without criticism. These types of occasions create a loving bond. Besides that, they will feel spoiled, and that’s a good feeling. Don’t forget to throw in a little treat along the way sometimes. That’ll make it even more memorable. Make the drive fun. This video will show you how one dad accomplished this with his teenage daughter.
3. Tell them stories about your life
Start young and they’ll grow up loving it. But if they are older, start now. Just do it. Kids feel a greater connection with not only Dad, but the whole family when stories about your childhood are shared. Tell about the time you went hunting with your dad and almost got a 10 point buck. If something funny happened, tell it with all the animation and fun you can muster. If you or your father served in the military, tell them about that. Let them know what it takes to preserve freedom. Just share your life with them. Show them pictures if you have some. If not, describe a situation in detail so they can imagine it. Do it in increments, making it short and to the point so they’ll want more.
4. Teach them how to work
This won’t happen in one fell swoop. It needs to happen little at a time as they grow. Don’t just tell your son or daughter to “go mow the lawn.” Show them how it’s done. Let them walk alongside you as you explain what constitutes a job well done. As they learn, allow them to make a few mistakes without a verbal beating when it’s not quite like you showed them. Be loving as you teach, but don’t let them get away with not doing their jobs and learning how to do them well. Life is full of doing jobs. The sooner a child learns how to work, the happier and more productive they’ll be in their own lives. In a recent interview, a successful athlete told how his dad taught him to stick with it and do the hard things in his life. He said it made all the difference.
Do these 4 things with your children and you cannot help but be among the fathers whose kids call “awesome.”
Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer and lyricist. Together they author books on relationships, including “I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better:. Their website is garyjoylundberg.com