“The most manly characteristic is to accept the responsibility of fathering a child” is one of many powerful suggestions Michael Byron Smith offers to help new fathers become the dad his child needs in his book, The Power of Dadhood, which I found a worthy and inspirational read even for a veteran dad of two (ages 6 and 2) like me.
The one area I find challenging is promoting confidence in my 6-year-old son. He is a reserved child at times and while I want him to be the star of his soccer team, I realistically curb my expectations. Smith writes “the challenge (for your child) must not exceed their capacity, or their confidence could diminish.” This is important as I’ve seen those maniacal father’s at ball games berating their child for not playing to the dad’s expectations. Smith continues on the concept of confidence in stating, “Confidence is not just expecting success, but also not fearing failure.”
My son won’t be the next Lionel Messi, but I certainly don’t want him to not try soccer due to his fear of failure. Certain drills he was apprehensive of trying, but after gentle coaxing he realized that he could do them and that boosted his morale. Fathers should work on developing good attitudes by supporting good attitudes which in turn results in children achieving their goals.
For a new father, there isn’t a handbook big enough to hold all the information one would need. However, I have found that letting your children know you love and care of them is one of the most important. As Smith writes in The Power of Dadhood, “By giving your children your attention, they will have evidence of their self-worth.”
When I am with my children, I put away my phone and tablet. I get happy when my daughter puts a puzzle together. I applaud my son when he builds the same Lego set for the 37th time. This attention displays my adoration and love, but provides my children with the fact that I am always here to support them.
The one section from Smith’s The Power of Dadhood I found most helpful is titled “Know the Power of Habits.” My children were instilled certain habits at a very young age (e.g. brushing their teeth right after the bath, knowing when time bedtime is, etc). Smith quips that politeness, sharing and saving are three habits we should ingrain in our children.
I agree that these three habits are a solid foundation to form your child’s life on; however, this can transcend to daily life skills as well. In addition, while routines are vital to help young children develop positive habits, it’s alright to break from the routine at times. Smith writes, “Routines beget habits, consistency, comfort and discipline. They are a safe place to return to but are not good to stay in constantly or forever. Routine for oler children can be a bore and not conducive for growth, so breaks from routine can be good, fun and also quite simple.”
A great example for me was being spontaneous with my children’s breakfast one Sunday morning. My wife was sleeping late, so I got the kids breakfast ready. In a random moment of creativity, I took their otherwise boring mini-waffle spheres and created “Mr. Waffle Face.”
The kids absolutely loved it and talked about it to everyone the rest of the day.
Smith, a retired military officer and civilian engineer, writes to the new father who did not receive love, compassion and support as a child. Today, our children are thrown into a sensory-overloaded world with competition and judgment surrounding every action taken. Fathers need to be that strong guiding hand yet have the conscience to be there both physically and mentally.
To sum up Smith’s words of wisdom, one of his dad tips states: “Some key areas where the power of dadhood is truly revealed include helping your children achieve self-reliance, build self-confidence, use and enjoy their imagination for life, and learn to set, plan for and achieve age-appropriate goals. All will serve them well as they mature in to adult-hood.”