The new year is upon us but it’s not too late to get your new year’s resolutions down. It’s very important to write them down and share them with your family so it’s just that much harder to forget your good intentions. Here are five resolutions that should be on every dad’s list, whether new or old dad.
1. Read to your kids more. Even if they are older and into their teens, find time on a regular basis to snuggle up and read something you both enjoy. Now is a good time to take stock on whether you are doing this enough already. It’s easy to get tired and skip “just tonight,” but reading together has benefits beyond just creating readers; it grows the family bonds and strengthens your relationship. Ideally, try to do this 3 to 4 times per week.
2. Resolve to say “I love you” more often. Some dads shy away from this, especially to little boys. We often think kids need to toughen up, but my theory is that we as parents need to help build a storehouse of love and self-respect that will strengthen our kids from inside. No one has ever become weaker by feeling loved. For young kids, target five times a day and at least one for older kids. While you’re at it, make sure to tell your partner as well.
3. Stay home more often. Especially if you’re a young dad, it’s tempting to feel you need time away from the family for whatever reason. You need your space or you’re losing yourself to your kids. In the moment, it’s easy to forget that the biggest legacy you will leave is in the strength of your relationship with your children. The time you spend now will be paid back tenfold when they still want to spend time with you in their teenage years. Not every dad can count on that but the ones who know their kids when they are little enjoy adolescence a lot more than the others. I see it every day.
4. Be the parent and not the dictator. We all fall into it. We hold the power and can wield it for good, or just because we have it. Believe me, if you can restrain yourself from demanding things from your kids and being polite, you’ll not only get better results, but mutual respect will grow. The biggest challenge is when you respectfully ask them to run to the kitchen to get the salt. If they rebel and say no, what do you do. That might be the moment to have a talk rather than to yell.
5. Say “please” and “thank you. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. It’s one of the greatest parental joys to hear your child say “please” when out at someone else’s home.
Personally, I’ll be working on numbers 1 and 4. Our reading has fallen after getting stuck on book 3 of The Benedict Society. We need to step up our game in the new year.
Happy new year to all!