Dad to Dad: My Top 3 Parenting Tips

posted in: Parenting | 23
Growing up as a child, my dad used to always tell me, “You know, you didn’t come with a manual.” It wasn’t until I was a parent myself that I really understood the sentiment behind that saying. I remember that first day we brought our first child home from the hospital. My wife was exhausted and I was equal parts excited and terrified. Actually, that’s a lie. It was more like one part excited and nine parts terrified. I had a child, a beautiful perfect little baby girl, and I had no clue what to do next.
I thought it’d get easier, that I’d hit my parental groove and I’d suddenly feel like I knew how to be a dad. But the truth is every time I feel like I’ve got it figured out, my kids show me that I don’t. Not that being a dad isn’t great, it really is. I love those little people more than I ever imagined I could, but I do spend a lot of time at night worried that I’m screwing them up. Being a parent is a great lesson in humility, but I have found a few things that I think I’m doing right, and I wanted to share them in case they might help someone else.

1. Fake Interest In What They Say

Look, let’s be honest here. The 10th time your kid excitedly tells you about the bird they saw out in the backyard, it is hard to muster up the fake enthusiasm. I know it is for me. But I try to remember that that bird is something that my kid thought was important and exciting enough to talk to me about it, and I am interested in my kids. So, I do my best to fake interest. And my kids aren’t old enough yet, but I really hope the payoff here will come down the line, when I actually want my kids to come to talk to me about things that are important like sex and relationships and college and politics and comic books. Hopefully, by then, they’ll have a lifetime of experience knowing that if they come to Dad to tell him something, he is going to be interested in talking to them about it.


2. Discipline is Easier When You Spend More Time with Your Kids

Sometimes I swear my kids are deaf. I’ve tried so many things to get them to listen to me, but the one thing I’ve found most effective is doing more stuff with them. Then, when they are bad, I have something to take away and it makes sense. For example, every night after my sons have gone to bed, I read My Little Pony comic books with my oldest daughter. I started doing it with her as a way to get her excited about reading, and now it is just part of our routine. But when she’s being too whiny or crying too much, now I can say, “Look, you seem tired what with all the whining and crying and what not. We probably need to skip reading comics tonight so you can get some sleep.” And then she either pulls herself together and tries to express her frustration in a more appropriate way and we read comics, or she doesn’t and she goes to bed. It’s really amazing though, because it only works if I spend time with my kids, which is something that I enjoy (and should be) doing anyways.


3. When in Doubt, Show Love

This is the single best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten, and I don’t even know where it came from. Social media maybe? Or someone said it to me? Or I read it on some awesome blog like Kindness In Demand? I’m not sure, but it’s great advice. So, in every interaction with my kids, whether I’m upset at them or busy, or just have no clue how to handle the thing that needs to be handled, the first thing I try to remember to do is show love and then go from there. And it helps because it’s hard to get angry or to be uninterested when you are first filled with love.
So yeah, that’s probably the most important thing that I have learned. Because when it’s all said and done, I doubt my kids are going to remember the specifics of how I handled that one time when they were four and the nightlight went out and they freaked out in the middle of the night. But I sure as hell want them to remember that their daddy loves them.

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23 Responses

  1. Kristina

    Love #2. I’m in the same boat. I know for a fact the way my kids sometimes Act I never did as a child. I try to spend a lot of time with my kids and even quality time with each one just for that same reason. It’s great too!!

  2. Great tips. I can agree with them all. My daughters are almost 18, and 11. I have done all of these things many times, more times than I can count on faking interest! Lol.

  3. Aww these are remarkable tips. I’m definitely going to be saving this for when I have little ones.

  4. When in doubt show love. Good advice for anyone, anywhere, any time!

  5. These are some great tips and advice. Will definitely be sharing with some of my parent friends.

  6. Journa Ramirez

    Number 3 is the best tip! I am always doing it to my kids and it’s really effective. Just show love. 🙂

  7. Elizabeth O.

    I love this. It’s important to be there for them especially when they’re excitedly showing off something even if it is for the 100th time in one hour. I think these are great tips!

  8. These tips are very sweet. It’s nice to listen to your kids even if you’re not really interested in what they have to say. It builds them up! I think the third one is the best advice!

  9. Great tips! My eight year old daughter talks from the moment she gets home to the moment she falls asleep at bedtime. I am interested in everything she says. Wink, wink.

  10. “When in doubt, show some love”
    This is perfect!

    It’s nice to see posts from Dads to Dads, it’s a type of advice one can only understand if it comes from another

  11. “When in doubt, show love” – My husband should read this post. Sharing it with him.

  12. All perfect tips!! And my god if I have to hear ONE MORE TIME about the story line between character A and character B I might cry!! Totally feel your pain on that one!

  13. yup! parent tips 101. especially #3. spending time with them, without a phone in your hand or the tv on is the best discipline.

  14. Very essential tips. Being a parent means showing love and interest in everything they do and it’s also about not always being the nice guy.

  15. These tips are so much yes! I totally agree with #2, very essential.

  16. These are wonderful tips and honestly, as a mom I find them to be helpful too! I need to practice showing more love!

  17. I wish more people could get your third tip through their heads. I think that kids would respect a parent much more that is able to show love when they need it rather than harsh discipline that isn’t really necessary.

  18. Discipline is easier when you spend more time with them. It’s weird right but it’s easier if you get them and can understand where they’re coming from so you can level with them.

  19. CourtneyLynne

    Love these tips!!!! Love always works. Even when things get tough showing your kiddo love even when your disciplining them

  20. Such great tips for parents! I bet they’re helpful for all parents and not just dads, too!

  21. I don’t have kids yet, but I use #1 all the time with my younger cousins. When they start talking about video games, I listen carefully and ask questions too. They love chatting up about things they love.

  22. We are only 7 months into this, but think #2 really sticks out to me already as so so true. Overall though some helpful reminders.

  23. Faking interest in what they say is so funny but important. Sometimes when I get home from work and I’m exhausted, this really saves me while my sons are telling me stories about their day.

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