7 Things I've Learned to Help Be a Better Father
Father's Day never meant much to me as a young boy - I thanked my dad for being my dad and usually made him a card. As I got older and matured I realized the importance of the day and how it was an opportunity to thank my dad for not only being the best dad, but to thank him for his sacrifices, his unending forgiveness and his counsel over the years. I let him know how much I appreciated him and how much I cared.
Now, as a father of a 13 month old daughter (Fiona), Father's Day has taken on a new meaning for the third time. It is an opportunity for me to reflect on the previous 12 months as a father, to learn from my mistakes and commit to being an even better one going forward. I know how hard it is to be a good father and that no one delivers the guidebook to you in the hospital recovery room. I have found some things that have helped me improve as a father, and below I have shared some of them. Perhaps they can help someone else.
- Being present is essential. It is really important for your child and meaningful for your spouse. Establish something that you are always (or almost always) present for. For me, it is dinner, book and bedtime routine. That is my time, and Fiona, although young, knows it. Just like I would not miss an important meeting, I don’t miss my time.
- Tell your child out loud what you will do to be a good father. Verbalizing it, even if they cannot understand it, will make you more likely to follow through on your intentions. It is a verbal promise and will help ensure you do not let your child down.
- When traveling for work, take the last flight out of town. Spend the extra time with your child. Sure you will be more tired when you arrive, but does it really matter?
- Don't use your Blackberry or iPhone in front of your child (Don’t do it in front of your wife either for that matter!)
- Tell your child you love them. Love should be a word they hear a lot. I say it to Fiona a few times a day and every time I leave for work and when she goes to bed. It is reminder to me how fortunate I am to have her in my life.
- Take time to appreciate the little things; reading a book, taking a bath, a funny thing she says, the way you feel when you look at her.
- If you are fortunate enough to have a spouse, parent or partner assisting in raising your child - thank them. Repeatedly. I could not do it without my wife and probably don’t tell her enough how grateful, fortunate and blessed I am to have her.
Perhaps these tips will help you - or maybe you have others you can share with me?
This Father’s Day I realize just how blessed I am to be a father and the responsibility that comes with it. It has rearranged my priorities (I don’t get to read the Sunday paper anymore…who cares!), put a lot of things in perspective (family is permanent, everything else is temporary) and given me a whole new level of appreciation for my dad. I remember as a kid getting in a minor car accident and thinking to myself that my dad was going to kill me. I called him and he said two things; “Are you okay?” and “I’ll be right there”. Fiona, thank you for enabling me to be a father, I will do my best to make sure you are okay and that I am always there for you. Happy Father’s Day.
Chris Smith is the proud father of Fiona and fortunate husband of Shanon. They reside in the San Francisco Bay Area where Chris works in lodging real estate investing and Shanon runs a lifestyle and weight management business.