Friday, November 9, 2007

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Fathers

This looks like a wonderful set of habits for a dad. I'm not sure the first one is always wise, but the other six certainly seem to be.

I do have some problems with Habit #1, which is "Keeping Stress to Yourself". I think that in most cases it's a valid rule. No kid needs to be bothered hearing about the day-to-day hassles of work and adult life. They're too busy with their own hassles and childhood traumas.

However, I think kids do need to know what's going on in your life, particularly if it's important. Kids are smart. They're going to pick up when something is bothering you, and if you're not careful, they'll think that it's them.

They also need to have changes in behaviour explained to them. If you're going through financial difficulty or you're reassessing your spending priorities, sit down with them and talk about it at their level in a non-frightening way. They need to know that just because you're purchasing fewer toys for them doesn't mean you love them less, and they definitely need to know something is up before you're all moving into a smaller home because Daddy lost his job. If you and your spouse are having relationship issues, you both need to be mature enough to A) not fight in front of the kids, and B) sit down with them and explain that while Mom and Dad are going through a bit of a tough time with each other, it hasn't got any relationship to how you both feel about them.

I learned a lot from my father about how to behave and react in stressful situations because he'd occassionally come chat with me about problems he was having that might put him in less than his usual good spirits. I still value the laid back way he'd talk through things, which was a nice juxtaposition to my mother's tendency to pretend everything was always peachy until her emotions exploded, often in a random direction.

In any case, I agree Habits #2 through #7 are always a good idea, and that #1 usually is. I also think they're excellent habits for successful moms.

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