You know the guy. He always looks like he’s in control, dresses casually but still has style to spare and gets devoted glances from his perfectly behaved kids. He’s got an answer for every problem and he goes about his business without intentionally making you feel awful by comparison. It’s easy to hate him, but you don’t. He won’t let you.
Yup, even he stumbles and bumbles as a parent. You just might not see it.
Parenting is a humbling gig. You can pull off a dozen Super Dad moments and then burn dinner or otherwise wreck your streak. It happens. You’re forgiven. The web is chock full of such examples.
Dads should never commit the following three parenting errors. They aren’t just bumbles. They have lasting repercussions.
- Don’t Berate Your Spouse in Front of the Children: I’ve done this only a couple of times over 10-plus years of marriage, and after each incident I regretted it intensely. Parents should have a unified front for the children’s sake. Even if you screw up a home repair in epic fashion or the Missus makes a major faux pas, the time for intense scrutiny is after the kids are tucked away in bed. Jumping down your wife’s throat is a scary image for your children to process. A handful of incidents won’t send your children scrambling to a therapist’s couch, but over time those outbursts could leave a mark.
- Don’t Pick Favorites: Admit it. There are days you’d much rather spend time with Child A than Child B. That’s natural. Our Ben proved a challenge, and then some, over the summer. I did my level best not to play favorites all the same. It wasn’t easy. My own parents did a wonderful job with this balancing act, one that’s likely much harder for dads with three or more children. Just be aware of the potential issue. If one child feels neglected, set up some solo time with him or her. Make sure they know you’re as devoted to them as their siblings. Never let that doubt fester for too long.
- Don’t Phone It In: Children notice everything we do and say, which means fathers should live life to the fullest … for the sake of their kids. Don’t forget the romance in your relationship. Bring your wife flowers for no reason at all. Dress as if someone might pop in at any moment. Work out as if you’re still single and trying to impress the ladies. Try new recipes now and then. Be dynamic. Your kids will think you’re a Superman even if you channel surf from the comfort of your old, sticky couch. You can do better. Set an example you want your children to emulate one day. Phoning too much of life in isn’t just depressing for you. It could result in your children thinking that’s all there is to adulthood, and start dreading it intently.