This article is part of an editorial series, “Dear Dad,” brought to you by Fort Worth Moms. Join our subscriber list so you don’t miss a moment of “Dear Dad” and all Fort Worth Moms has to offer throughout the year.
I feared what fatherhood would look like when I had my first son and then terrified of what it would look like after my second son. I felt like my dad wasn’t the easiest dad to love, so I was afraid of what being a good dad would be like for me.
Doing the Opposite
My parents were together my entire childhood, although not happily. My dad provided for our family and made sure we always had food to eat. When I was young, I remember going to baseball games with him and enjoying it. Little league weekends growing up was also a lot of fun.
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Once I matured, I realized things weren’t great most of the time. My dad would have mood swings, and I always struggled to talk to him about my feelings. He often fought with my mom, and I felt that he shouldn’t. He was rude and mean to my friends, inappropriate in public, and hard to be around.
I believe most kids take after either their mother or father. So, when I became a father to my sons Jackson and Grayson, I was concerned I may have inherited some of these behaviors and habits. I was so aware of my father’s wrong behaviors that I tried to do the opposite. Every decision, every second of fatherhood, I told myself to do the opposite of what my dad used to do or say. After a while, I realized that this mindset was working, and doing the opposite became natural for me. I worried less about telling myself to think this way with each decision with my boys.
Jackson is now four years old, and Grayson turns two in July. I’m not saying being a dad is easy — especially being a dad of such young toddlers. My patience is tested daily, I’m constantly tired and look forward to bedtime every day. Kids this age don’t understand how to be patient, nor do they understand what the word “no” means. So, I’ve learned to be patient. I try to coach my boys up each day on proper manners and to simply say “please” and “thank you.”
But I say all this to tell you that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
It’s my time with my kids I enjoy the most. I love playing outside with them. Jackson loves to do yard work with me. We love to go to Home Depot and get lollipops at the checkout line. I enjoy asking the boys about their day when I get home from work. At dinner, we talk about what went well for the day and what was hard. I find that all these conversations help shape the foundation of being a good dad. Most important, I tell them each I love them multiple times a day. Kids need to know now more than ever that we love them.
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My dad understood the importance of quality time like this, but he thought that was enough for us to bond. The daily check-ins about how my day was and how I was doing and feeling were absent. Though we’d play outside and go to the store together, my father and I could never connect as father and son without having these conversations.
Discipline to Connect
Discipline is another time when being able to talk to your kids is important. I often find these times to touch the heart the most. Usually after a time out, Jackson will come to me and apologize in a caring tone. I explain why he got into trouble and why he was in time out. I then ask if he understands why he got into trouble. Once he understands why, I then tell him I love him and it’s okay. Jackson often tells me he loves me, too.
Being a dad is the most rewarding job on earth. While it’s not easy, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Just make sure you are there. There when your kids are having a bad day. There when they wake up scared from a bad dream. There in the good times and bad. There as often as you can be. Hug and kiss your kids every day and tell them you love them. One day, they will remember all the times you were there.
Evan is a guest writer for the editorial series “Dear Dad.” He grew up in Baltimore and moved to Texas in 2014 to be closer to family. He started his career in hospitality as a valet driver at a hotel. Today, he is a regional vice president after roughly 20 years in the industry. In time off from work, he loves being at home with his wife, Susan, and two boys, Jackson and Grayson.