Being a responsible father
AS Father’s Day approaches, it is a good opportunity for us as fathers to ponder on how we guide our children and how these actions truly impact and lead them to become responsible adults and good parents in due course.
Foremost is for fathers to be conscious that any guidance or how we correct our children is done from a position of, and rooted in, unconditional love.
We must never correct out of anger or a selfish desire that our children should act in a certain way to make our lives easy.
A key part of this is for our children themselves to know, by our words and actions, that our love for them is not because of what they have or haven’t done, but because they are our children.
Next, we need to be aware that shaming our children in any way has no place in guidance or correction by a parent.
Even if we might see short-term behavioural changes by shaming children, there will be no long lasting internal transformation in them. Rather, it could create fear and resentment in them.
It is imperative that any punishment or restriction we consider necessary to impose on our children should be made clear to them before their actions and must be followed through when warranted.
When children are consciously made aware of the consequences of their actions it almost always keeps them away from indiscipline and wrongful acts, and if they do commit such misdeeds they accept, even if reluctantly, the upshot or penalties that follow.
It is equally necessary to help our children understand that fathers have both authority over them and responsibility for them. Fathers must lead the household by exercising, with wisdom, discretion and justice, this right and accountability on their part.
We as fathers cannot and should not, however, tell our children that they must submit to our authority and respect norms and values while on the other hand we disregard authority in our own lives and go against those very same standards, morals, ethics and ideals that we demand they uphold.
Equally important is to accept that none of us is perfect. We all make mistakes and it is important that we be willing to admit to those mistakes. More importantly, we must readily make amends and changes to remedy those mistakes as much as it may be possible.
We should never be under any delusion that our children think we are perfect in the first place. After about the age of seven or eight, or nowadays even younger, that phase of life is long gone.
Being transparent teaches children honesty and also gives children a chance to learn from our mistakes and, hopefully, to avoid them.
We must stay actively, consciously and continually involved in our children’s lives without giving them the impression we are putting them under our thumbs or guiding them by “remote control”.
To be involved, we must invest the time, however much it takes, to build mutually satisfying and rewarding relationships with our children and we must have both quality and quantity time with them.
Indeed, if we ask children about their regrets as they get older, the vast majority will tell us they wish they could have spent more time with their dads.
In almost anything, it is a good idea to present our children with choices and let them decide. Of course, we must equip them in the first place to understand what such choices entail and that they have to live with the consequences of those choices.
Almost everyone one of us wants our children to grow up possessing leadership qualities. Part of leadership is the ability to make a choice and deal with its consequences, positive and negative.
If we do not allow our children to practise that skill when they are young, they will be ill equipped to handle choices and be responsible as adults.
Finally, it is necessary to tailor our approach to individually guide, correct and lead each of our children to become able, productive, dependable and useful adults, parents and citizens.
It is truly amazing to see how children can be so alike in some respects yet so different in others. It almost seems impossible that they share the same DNA! Furthermore, children change over time as they grow up.
We must, therefore, customise our approach based on the personality, experience, emotional needs, age and maturity level of each child.
Fathers, watch your children grow, talk to them, study them and spend time intentionally with them. Guide and help them plan and fulfil their most cherished goals in life.
Here’s hoping that each of us fathers will be a good father to our children.
Happy Father’s Day!