Being a parent is the most challenging and yet most rewarding job I have ever had. There is no playbook that can tell you how to do it. There are various parenting books, blogs, and seminars you can attend to learn more, but everyone’s child is different. Situations are different. You are different.
For example, as a child, I use to get spankings for bad behavior, as I got older my mother would just yell If I acted up. My approach is different. I never beat my kid. I yell, only when I get irritated about repeating the same thing over and over. Even then I feel guilty that I shouted. I am a real softy with my kids at times. I don’t let them walk over me at all, but I don’t punish them unnecessarily.
I remember years a few years before I had my first child I seen a line in a parenting article that said; “kids spend the rest of their lives getting over the first five years.” It made me think deeply about how I wanted to raise my children.
It is true that as parents we can damage our kids psyche if we are not careful. How many parents have talked disparagingly towards their kids because of how they were raised. Or was an absentee parent because that’s what happened in their childhood. I promised this was never going to happen. My childhood wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad either. Despite the rough circumstances I turned out fine, and I make sure my kids will have a better childhood than I had.
One way I consistently do to make sure my kid’s childhood is going fine is I ask myself four questions often. Mostly at times when I think I can be doing more.
These questions I ask myself are
#1. Am I having fun with my kids?
I mean really having fun. Getting goofy and not being too rigid in the rules.
Sometimes you can be so preoccupied with responsibilities from work or paying bills that you forget to actually have fun. The kind you use to have as a kid yourself. One day I thought of this idea of having a pirate dinner. The rules were: there are no rules. Grub on the table and chow down. And my kids loved it; They didn’t hear me say pick up after yourself or wipe your mouth because I was right in there being sloppy with them.
#2. Are we spending quality time together? And is that time meaningful?
Doing things like watching movies together — the ones I watched as a kid. We recently saw “Coming to America” starring Eddie Murphy and my kids loved it.
We also watch some tv shows together like Family Feud with Steve Harvey, Black-ish, Simpsons and Law and Order: SVU, and America’s Funniest Home videos. We also play board games, card games and read together. Anything to spend time with each other.
#3. What memories did we create today?
I remember when there was a snow storm coming in Toronto, and it was 11:00 pm, there was plenty of snow on the ground already. My son was still up, so he and I put on our winter gear and went out and played in the fresh snow for like 40 minutes. My son is nine right now and still reminds me of that moment (he was five at the time).
#4. What adventure did we have or what adventure did we plan?
I like spontaneity so we will go on an adventure every so often. I want my kids to know about the adventures that await them in the world so they can have a life full of great times and memories. I let them choose the places we want to go half the time, then we make plans and go.
Your questions to yourself will be according to your lifestyle. I know these help me tremendously as a parent. I judge myself hard in this area because it can always feel like I’m not doing enough or spending enough time with my kids. But I think as long as I can consistently hit these metrics with my kids, then I am doing an excellent job as a parent, and my kids will always know their daddy was there for them.