Resolution? Nah, I’ll Just Try to Be a Better Dad

New Year’s resolutions…at least one time each year we find it acceptable to lie to ourselves. Well, maybe not an outright lie, but a general misleading of sorts. C’mon, we know ourselves better than that. If you have kids, you undoubtedly have observed some sort of interaction with another child/parent combo and wished that situation was more prevalent in your house. Maybe that’s just me.

A noble, if not well-intentioned resolution is to try to be a better parent. After all, what parenting boils down to is learning life’s lessons by watching your parents. Kids are a little like the government in the UK…always watching and evaluating. They learn how to interact with other humans, emotions and a whole host of other things from simply watching you. To that end, here a few things I am going to try to improve on this year and beyond.

In my particular line of work, loss of patience is inevitable. Not only that, it seems that our society is designed to suck the patience right out of you; super fast Internet, fast food and smartphones make sure you don’t have to wait long for something if you don’t want to. Sometimes, that carries over to my home life and I find myself getting frustrated with everything from slow drivers to the microwave taking too long. Sometimes, I need to do a better job forcing myself to slow things down.

Being Nice
Another unfortunate side effect of my job is the requirement to be stand-offish with people and keep them at arm’s length (literally and figuratively). Living in a super metropolis has melded with that aspect of my job to make me, shall we say, less than cordial to strangers. My kids see that, and I can tell they are starting to pick up the vibe. Now, I wasn’t raised that way nor did I used to act like that. I was the nicest stranger (aside from the ones with candy) that you would ever meet. I need to work on being nice but balancing that with the need to teach my kids to not be taken advantage of.

Yes, magic. Sometimes, as adults, we lose the ability to remember that everything is more magical when you’re a kid. Santa, the Easter Bunny and the like are exciting and wondersome. Obviously, this extends to more than mythical figures. Every new wonderful thing learned is exciting to them. To adults, it’s old news and if not balanced carefully, you can wreck the experience of simply being a kid.

Learning How to Learn
I am a problem solver. Whether that is inherent in my nature or a learned trait, the fact remains the same. Often, my kids approach with with some sort of dilemma or trying situation. Instead of teaching them the necessary skill of solving their problems on their own, I try to solve it for them. It would probably go hand in hand with my ‘patience’ paragraph above.

Having Fun
Let’s face it; adults have the inane ability to suck the fun out of everything. This is one area that I don’t need to improve on, but I could do it with more regularity. Kids, by their innocent nature, are silly. They make funny noises and faces, sing songs in grocery stores and ask the most awesome questions any reasonable person can imagine. Personally, I like to join them in this outgoing expression of joy. I could do it more often, and in fact, I shall. Sure, other adult patrons may look at you like you’ve just escaped from somewhere with a name like ‘Shady Acres’, but who cares what other people think? Kids sure don’t, and they shouldn’t either.

Think back on all of your happy memories from childhood, and then try to put yourself in your kids’ shoes. I’m not saying it’s hard to be a kid nowadays, but with social media, smartphones and the Internet, it’s hard to hold parents’ attention sometimes. I am guilty of this, and I am sure most people are. Kids need attention, and what’s more, they need the right kind of attention. So, embrace your inner child and relate to your kids in a way they may find surprising…as one of them.

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