Fatherhood

How To Be A Dad

Being a dad is a slightly weird. Perhaps, as I’ve spent 30 of my first 33 years being a son and not a dad, I’m just new to the process.

Sometimes I think I’m supposed to act a certain way: “dad-like.” And then I think, “nah, just be awesome to your boys, man” and that’s what I do.

Odd requests like this from kids are pretty common. I’m all like, “hey, this coffee mug isn’t a hat!?” and they’re all like, “Daddy’s silly, that’s not a hat! Mommy! Daddy’s funny!” And I’m all, “Hahaha, clearly I know this isn’t a hat – but this is!” and then I put a tube of diaper butt cream on my head.

Needless to say, my wife is incredibly proud when I do this sort of thing in public.

Kids are great.

Edit: the above was posted 5 years ago on another of blogs, so I’ve learned quite a bit more over that time. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Sometimes, kids just need a hug when they need a hug, not when you want a hug. Those are the best hugs.
  • Being asked an infinite amount of questions is an honor (never a bother)- they think you’re that smart. Don’t hesitate to say you don’t know and then work to find the answer together.
  • Gut laughs are the best laughs. Finding a genuinely silly thread, and then pulling it just right until you get them having hiccups, that’s where it’s at.
  • Getting them to like new foods like, snow crab, steak, and lobster, is always a double-edged sword. You’re happy for broadening their horizons, but damn did you just lose half your snow crab for life.
  • They don’t say “are we there yet” as much as I would have imagined. Though they do have a DVD player, and I was lucky to have a comic book.
  • After one of your kids drops his pants and craps in your neighbor’s yard like the dog, little else will surprise you.
  • They’re going to love mom more than you. That’s more than ok, and perfectly natural. We each have roles, and I know what mine is. There’ll be a time when I’m the go-to, and I can totally wait for that moment.

 

Our verbs become our adjectives… Father’s day post.

Our choices become our identity. Our verbs become our adjectives.

When we continuously choose to care for others we become known as “kind.” When we choose to put ourselves first we become known as “selfish.” When we choose to shepherd those in our charge and put their success and growth first, we become known as “leaders.”

Everyday I have to remind myself at least twenty or so times who I want to be known as. What would the kind of person I want to be do in this situation? It’s just a flash and it’s almost become instinctual for me. 

What are my adjectives? More accurately, what are the adjectives I’d like to choose for myself? I desperately want to be known as “effective, funny, committed, passionate, and a great father/husband.” so I have to remind myself constantly to take care to make those sorts of choices. 

I choose to hold doors and say thank you to everyone on my team as much as possible. I’m quick with compliments when the opportunities arise. If I have to break news I choose to do it in a humorous way when appropriate. I’m wildly passionate about what I do and I want others to feel that passion – every interaction, every single day.

Just like nicknames, we don’t get to choose our own adjectives. They’re applied by others and they illustrate how others see us. They’re a reflection of what kinds of verbs we are choosing – which is really all we can choose. 

I became a father a few years ago and my two boys are amazing. I want to be seen as generous with my time and attention, fair in my treatment, and encouraging of their curiosity. Kids are the best for letting you know what they think of your choices – there’s no faking it.

Internal dad monologue: “Yeah, you’re dead tired from 11 hours of crazy at work, but playing chase before bed time is going to make you the kind of dad you want to be known as – stick it out buddy, it’s worth it. Also, your wife has had a rough day too, take a few minutes and then talk to her about her day. Clean the kitchen. You’d like nothing more than to sack out on the couch with a book, but you’re not done yet… it’s OK, this is exactly what you want!” 

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What verbs are you choosing? What adjectives do you aspire to? Are you making the choices that are going to yield the outcomes you desire?

P.S. Happy father’s day to my dad and a special thanks for all the times you made me mow the lawn to learn a work ethic and for driving me to baseball card shows and comic book stores when you’d have liked nothing more than to watch the game. Thanks for being a great example and helping give me the tools to be a great dad, leader, and friend.  You’re awesome and I’m sorry for not letting you know that more often growing up.