As guys, we all have habits we need to cut out of our lives. Maybe it’s overeating, or speeding, or being quick-tempered. Whatever your bad habits are, making changes to eliminate these bad habits is truly a noble cause. The big question is, do we see the bad habits we develop as fathers that we need to drop as well? This can be a great deal more difficult, mostly because we tend to get a lot more emotionally invested in our parenting. Look over these bad habits to see if you have picked any up along the way on your Dad Journey.
Yelling Too Much
We all lose our cool and yell. Sometimes it’s because we are frustrated, and sometimes we are trying to get an important point across. The problem with yelling is that it’s really not an effective way to let go of frustration or or make a good explanation of the importance of what you have to say. Turn down the volume, and work on better communication skills with your family. It’s the best way to get out of the yelling rut.
Viewing Your Children’s Behavior as a Reflection of Your Parenting
Kids seem to come pre-programmed with specific personality traits, and as dads we cannot change all of those. If your kid is the loud one in church or hates sharing, that doesn’t make you a bad dad. When we are embarrassed by our kids behavior, it is because we are internalizing those behaviors as learned behavior from us. Instead, focus on the fact that you are doing your best to teach appropriate behaviors, and that their ongoing behavior is always a work in progress.
Complaining About Fatherhood
It’s a privilege being a dad, pure and simple; however, many of us don’t demonstrate that value in our interactions with others. We complain about our kids, their mom, our own shortcomings as a dad, but we so seldom focus on the positive parts of fatherhood. Watch out for those negative spiral moments, and make a conscious effort to find the good in family situations. Emphasize those things in your conversations with others.
Failing to Co-Parent
There is always the temptation to take your kids side when their mom is after them about something they’ve done. Fight that temptation, and do what is best for your kids by parenting as a cohesive unit. Stealthily furnishing them with treats when Mom is out of the house for a bit only sends one message: you and Mom are not united as parents.
Inconsistency and Unpredictability Are Your Worst Enemy
Being a good dad mean being a rock your kids can rely on. Breaking or bending rules or disciplining without consistency, or worse not being present when we absolutely have to be sows seeds of doubt, suspicion, and mistrust in our kids world. We owe it to them to be consistent, principled parents they can count on.
Being a Pushover
Children understand perfectly well that if they whine and complain enough, you will often give them what they want just to get them to go away. This only occurs when you constantly give in to their every demand and don’t set clear boundaries. Every time you give in, it becomes that much hard to say “no” the next time. You can be friendly, but you have to stand firm when setting limits. Otherwise, you are setting your kids up to become insufferable teenagers and adults.
Demeaning Your Kids
Children’s feelings and emotions are incredibly fragile, and they rely on us as their parents to be the firm foundation of how they see and value themselves. When we openly express criticism to or about them, we are essentially broadcasting their weaknesses and flaws to everyone within earshot. This sends a message of of disloyalty and a lack of respect for them as a person. Obviously you need to correct their behavior when they make poor choices, but you do not need to do it publicly or in a manner that is intended to demean or embarrass them. A good general rule to follow is placing yourself in their shoes and asking if you would want what you have to say to them said to you.
Not Making Time for Self-Care
You cannot fill another person’s cup from an empty cup. You have to take time to sharpen the saw and work on your own personal renewal and improvement first. Get some extra sleep, eat healthy food, and get regular exercise. All these things only improve your skills as a parent, and not taking time for self-care will result in a great deal more struggle as a parent and a father.
Avoid Addiction to Technology
Too many dads today seem to be a little too connected to their smartphones, tablets, computers, or what’s on TV. That addiction is stealing opportunities to build better relationships with your kids. Turn-off, unplug, disconnect, and start working on the family connections that really matter.
Too Busy for Fun at Home
While staying busy and being productive are both important and necessary to a fulfilling life, you still have to make time for fun. Fun with the family is the road to meaningful, positive relationships, and it is how our children learn to build these relationships for themselves. Make sure you are creating opportunities for fun by not being too busy to spend time with them.