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Father’s Day – 10 Top Tips for Being a Great Dad

Father’s Day – 10 Top Tips for Being a Great Dad

time to honour your father

    It is Father’s Day on Sunday (June 15th, 2008) in the UK, USA and many other countries around the world. This year, the day will be especially poignant for me as for the first time in my life on father’s day I will be without my father who passed away last December. So this year is truly a time to remember just what he meant to me and what he will always mean to me.

    Father’s Day is becoming an important day of celebration and gradually catching up with the more popular Mother’s Day worldwide. Now the fifth most-purchased greeting cards in the USA are Father’s Day cards.

    Whereas Mother’s Day is seen to be more sentimental, Father’s Day is seen more as a day of practical gift giving such as DIY tools etc. However the most popular Father’s Day present is apparently the gift of a tie.

    any gift from the heart will do for your father

      No matter what you call your father — dad, papa, pop and so on — today is a chance for you to celebrate your father and recognise just what he is and what he has done for you. Father’s Day is your one chance in the year to give your father a pat on the back for who he is and what he has done for you.

      I believe Father’s Day is also an opportunity to review just what being a father means to you and how you can become a better father to your children.

      I imagine there is so much time, frustration, stress and sacrifice involved in being a parent. Occasions such as Father’s Day allow us to reflect on just how worthwhile it all was. If I had appreciated the efforts of my parents when I was younger, I would probably have been a lot nicer to them and more appreciative of their hard work. Maybe they should have classes in how to be nice to your parents!

      I do not have children of my own, but have been blessed with a number of nephews, nieces, young cousins and any number of young people in our extended family. I still recall my great joy the first time I received a Father’s Day card from my nephew.

      Also the children of many friends have found a second home at my place. I even have a special toy box for those times when I have young visitors. There was a time when children visiting us would rush straight upstairs and bring down the toy box, promptly emptying the contents on the lounge floor with a great relish.

      Though I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have children of my own, I do feel that I have had the best of both worlds. I do also wonder just what sort of a father I would have been. A good one I hope, taking the best of the lessons from my father and also from my mother, and combining these with all my own observations and learnings from the last few years of personal growth and exploration.

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      time to honour your father

        Having worked with children in the UK and also at Nirvana School in Pondicherry, South India, here are my ten top tips for being a great dad:-

        1. Always be encouraging to your children. Give them love. Give them respect. And give them as much freedom and real responsibility as they can handle.

        Children will stretch themselves when challenged. But when you encourage them, make sure they can succeed. Do not set such high standards that they might ultimately fail and lose confidence.

        So often we are quick to let a child know when they do something we think is wrong. But remember to acknowledge and appreciate a child when all is going well and the child is playing quietly in the house or doing some chores.

        2. Treat the child as an equal. Never assume an air of superiority. Give them credit – they are smarter than you think they are!

        Expect a great deal from your children and they will rise to the occasion. By setting your expectations in a loving way, about things such as good manners and efforts at school, and expecting them to do well, you will be letting them know that you think a lot of them. When they know this, they will in turn respond with a great deal.

        3. Let them follow their own life path – just be there to support them in whatever they choose, rather than pushing them into following your footsteps. They have their own desires and interests.

        Many families put so much pressure on their children to become a doctor or a professional of some standing, whereas the child may want to follow a completely different path.

        Not all children will succeed at, say, academics. As a father, your job is to help them discover their gifts and not disparage them for anything that you perceive as beyond them. Challenge and encourage with compassion, but at the same time without promoting mediocrity.

        4. Be there for them always. Spend some quality time with them in the evening after work. Share at least one meal a day together. This is what brings and keeps families together.

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        Place a high value on spending one-on-one time with your child. More than what money can ever buy, your child really wants their father’s time and undivided attention.

        Nowadays, even in South Asian families like mine, children live with their parents for only a short period of their lives. Therefore enjoy the moments now so that one day you can both enjoy the memories.

        Live simply and don’t have extra demands and activities that can keep you and your child stressed out and too busy to enjoy the important and essential things in life.

        5. Truly listen to them. Ask them for their opinion and let them know that what they think and want counts.

        Don’t just listen to the words, but listen to what is behind the words. “Hear” what your children are really saying. Though listening like this requires patience, do persevere and focus on your children. Give them your time – after all their words are so important.

        Part of listening and responding is to be able to say “no” as and when appropriate. There is so much stuff out there for children these days and sometimes you have to decide just what is appropriate for them. It is usually better for children to learn discipline, self-control, and how to delay gratification, when they are told no by their parents.

        6. Walk the talk. Set them a noble example and be in integrity always. By this, I mean make sure your thoughts, words, feelings and actions are all in agreement.

        Be very honest with your children as they will know when you are not telling the truth. You will both feel better, trust more and learn to be honest.

        Also, as a father, always be sure to treat the mother of your child well. This is where your children will get very important information about relationships between men and women.

        Do not ever fight in front of the kids and remember to be kind much more often than trying to be right. This reminds me of a quote I read a while ago which is very apt:-

        “The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love and respect their mother” (source unknown).

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        7. Laugh often with your children – be childlike.

        Apparently, children under the age of seven laugh 700 times a day, whereas adults on average laugh only four times a day! So you have a lot of catching up to do. Therefore look for humour and share moments of the joy of life with your children and the rest of the family.

        Life is too short and your children will have grown up and left you before you know it , so remember to have some fun together along the way. Don’t take yourself or things so seriously. Begin to see your child through the soft eyes of love and kindness –after all you were once young too – be young again.

        I still remember a time at a Xmas party a few years when my father orchestrated a silly party game and had us all in raptures and fits of laughter. He shed away decades that evening and looked so much younger and energetic. We had never before seen him so childlike and joyous.

        show love to your children always

          8. Teach your child about your values and what is important to you and your family. One of the greatest things you can instill in your child is a sense of what is right and what is not. Teach them a sense of duty, responsibility and good morals.

          Like it or not, one day they will be walking their own path and you will no longer be there to catch them or protect them. So whilst you can, share your ideas and your wisdom, but be prepared to let them walk in their own shoes.

          At the same time, protect your children, but don’t smother them.

          9. Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s accomplishments, but do not make their achievements the basis of your love and attention. Don’t jump in with your advise and how they “should” do things. Just be there to support and encourage them. If nothing else, truly listen to them.

          Look for the evidence of accomplishment, no matter how small. Appreciate your children’s efforts and enjoy them for what they are doing and do not look at what they are not doing. Instead, look for the good in what your children already do and who they are, rather than insisting that they fit your or some cultural stereotype image.

          At the same time, always separate the behaviour from the child. Remember it is not the child who is bad – it is their behaviour that may not be acceptable.

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          Of course, hitting, spanking and physically punishing your kids is out – in my opinion it just doesn’t work at all. As a father, do you really want your kids to be afraid of you? Research has proven how counter-productive physical punishment can be to a child’s self-esteem. Punishment in general is not very effective, so try encouragement instead.

          10. Finally, truly love your children. You may say you love them, but if they don’t feel loved, then they aren’t loved.

          Don’t show favoritism amongst your children but appreciate their individual uniqueness. Not all children are created equal or are alike. Create opportunities to find out how each child is unique and wonderful. Each child has so many gifts to offer you – you just have to look for them.

          At the end of the day every child needs love above more than anything else and as a father you have a wonderful opportunity to bestow this gift on your child – in the same way that at one time your own father did to you.

          I will always remember visiting orphanages in Pondicherry and meeting all these children without any parents and thinking how lucky I was to have had such loving, kind and good parents. It is now up to you to bestow the same love and kindness to your children who will carry the candle after you.

          To end, here are some inspiring and thought provoking quotes about fatherhood:-

          “Not every successful man is a good father. But every good father is a successful man” (R. Duvall)

          “I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week” (Mario Cuomo)

          Hope you have a happy Father’s Day and don’t forget to let your own father know that he did a good job. Go on, make more of a fuss than usual. Make the most of your father whilst you still can.

          Just as importantly, remember to truly love your children, today and always.

          And of course do share your own top tips about being a great dad…

          remember what your father has done for you

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            Last Updated on July 10, 2020

            How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

            How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

            We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

            We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

            So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

            Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

            What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

            Boundaries are limits

            —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

            Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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            Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

            Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

            Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

            How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

            Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

            1. Self-Awareness Comes First

            Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

            You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

            To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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            You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

            • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
            • When do you feel disrespected?
            • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
            • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
            • When do you want to be alone?
            • How much space do you need?

            You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

            2. Clear Communication Is Essential

            Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

            Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

            3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

            Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

            That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

            Sample language:

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            • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
            • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
            • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
            • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
            • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
            • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
            • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

            Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

            4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

            Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

            Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

            Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

            We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

            It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

            It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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            Final Thoughts

            Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

            Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

            Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

            The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

            Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

            Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

            They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

            Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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