This is the second instalment of this series. You can find the first part here.
Being a dad ain’t rocket science. Some books and blogs would make it seem like you need advanced degrees in psychology and childhood learning before you can play peek-a-boo.
Don’t take that shit. Do what I did in the first part of this series and decide what you want your child to be like. Then, work backwards from there and find the behaviours that will model future character.
It’s really not hard at all, and a lot of it is common sense. For example, if you don’t want a cruel child, don’t be cruel yourself! Only a retard could fail to see that. Are you a retard?
Here’s what I strive for with my children:
Don’t beat up your kids.
This should be obvious. If you want kids who can trust you fully, you need to restrain yourself. Hey look, I’ve smacked my kids on the bum when I’m at the end of my tether. I can count on two hands the times I’ve done it in five years. Sometimes they just know the buttons to press.
When I review the situation after the fact, however, I find that their behaviour is, while not justified, at least somewhat predictable. To warrant bad behaviour, they are usually
tired: from lack of sleep; a big day at some point in the previous three days; from playing with other kids; from a growth spurt.
hungry: from lack of food; or too much junk food.
requiring attention: they haven’t got what they need from you in the past 24 hours.
A child usually cannot tell when he is hungry or tired. How many adults do you know behave badly when they are starving or after a big night out? Expecting a 3 year old or 6 year old to keep their emotions in check is like expecting a labrador to avoid peanut butter jelly time.
Re: that last point, your kids NEED parent time. They don’t need a whole lot, but your kids require your undivided attention for a little while at least. My go-to if I’m tight for time is usually wrestling. I throw them on the bed or trampoline and go to town on them for a set time.
Ultimately, resorting to violence smacks of a lack of imagination. Is my child misbehaving? Should I discover the primary drivers behind this behaviour? Should I uncover what has truly made my child upset? Should I perhaps feed him because he is starving?
I’ll just smack him!
It’s the go-to for stupid people. I’ve never met intelligent person who believes smacking is the answer. The people who smack generally want their child to OBEY, an action with which I am not entirely comfortable. Obedience opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms, so it will be the subject of future discussion.
This doesn’t mean I don’t discipline my kids! Kids need boundaries, they need strictness and occasionally severity. But these are not taught through violence.
Don’t tease your kids.
Teasing is the realm of primary school kids. A tease from a parent is never, ever regarded as a joke by the child. Name calling or deliberately annoying them in a cruel way destroys self-esteem, which, contrary to what some fuckheads in the manosphere community would have you believe, is as real in a child’s psychology as its sense of family.
If you want a cruel and self-loathing child, please continue with this stupidity.
Once I saw a boy of about 9 or 10 on a swing, with his dad swinging him. The boy screamed with joy.
“You squeal like a girl!” his father spat.
The boy shut himself up. His face became a mask.
The morals taught? Expression was obviously forbidden, but it was permissible to destroy another’s sense of joy. Another future dickhead was born in that moment.
Don’t do their learning for them.
Most kids naturally have an inordinate sense of patience. So where do they learn frustration and impatience? Their parents.
When my son learnt to do his own buttons up, I was tearing up the walls. I would rather peel my own face off than watch that performance again.
The thing is, I was the only one frustrated. Sitting warmly on my lap, he would find the button, grip it securely, then go to push it through the hole.
And miss. Patiently, slowly, surely, he would again find the button and push through.
And again. And again. AND AGAIN.
Without a murmur. His breathing would become measured by degrees, like a meditation master throat breathing. There was no whinging, no whining. Just trying.
I, meanwhile, was fighting an losing battle. My inner dialogue was rapidly retrenching my desire for my son to independently learn. Each miss sent my chest into spasms, my heart into hammer blows. I so wanted to show him the way, and get it over with.
I finally got control over myself as my boy proudly showed me his shirt, buttoned beautifully. His face was calm, beatific. It had taken him ten minutes. He didn’t mind. Only I did.
Kids don’t do things for the end result. They do things for the doing. I once saw a one-year-old playing Connect Four. He was having a lot of trouble putting the coins into the slots. There was a woman behind him, who, whenever he had difficulty, would slot the coin.
Why on earth would you do that? Having the coin in the slot is only a sign of success. It’s not the point of the boy’s exercise. Remember that next time your child is learning. Children don’t see things as frustrating. They only want to try things, learn, and wonder.
Be in the moment with your kids.
Too often I am merely sitting with my kids. I am not there. My mind is elsewhere, daydreaming, reading, on my phone. I am waiting for My Time (TM).
Being with kids is work. Hard Work. They are alive, so full of energy and always totally in the moment. Playing with them, being with them takes energy, and it is too easy to just be there in body and not in spirit.
That’s too bad, because soon enough it will be gone. They will grow up. My eldest is five already, and it’s just like every parent says: it goes by so fast.
Adam Sandler starred in Click, an otherwise forgettable movie. In it, Sandler finds a magical remote that enables him to play, pause and fast-forward through his life. His skips all the boring bits, but finds that the remote takes note of his selections, and speeds through other parts that are similar. In this way he ploughs through life at hyper-sonic speed to his death.
I often feel this way. Life is the bit lived between work, sleep, meals and parenting. What is left? The hour or two a week you spend on your hobbies? No.
All of Life is Life. Not just the bits you want to enjoy.
If you can live with this in mind, your kids will notice, and respond favourably.
“Let me think about that.”
This is one of the most potent and underused tools in a parents arsenal. You are under no obligation to respond immediately to any request from your kids. You can take all the time you need to decide whether the request is appropriate or not.
Too many times I’ve reacted instinctively to a request, then later regretted my decision. The key word here is “react”. We don’t need to react. We can take the information on board, actively think about it, then hand down a solid decision.
Don’t be a helicopter.
Hover parents are fucking annoying. It’s like they have to micro-manage every part of their child’s life. They make sure nothing untoward happens, that their child is playing appropriately, that their child is bored out of its fucking brain.
They are essentially saying to their child “You are incapable of playing without direct supervision” and “Life is entirely predictable”.
Here’s a tip: stay the fuck away. Let the little bastards hurt themselves. Let them eat sand. Let them give Jimmy a Knuckle Happy Meal and feel the consequences of a three-year-old’s burning wrath.
My boys have scars, cuts and bruises you wouldn’t see on grown men. And guess what? They are fucking smart, co-ordinated and pumped about life. Next to nothing scares them.
Many of their friends look like they were pumped out of a factory production line, cookie-cutter kids. They need mummy’s say-so to try anything new. They run to dad if they fall over.
That’s all right though. Our modern world needs plenty of fodder for the future’s factories. Life is a learning experience, and if you are hovering, you are shitting on your child’s self-education.
A father needs patience more than anything else. He has a whole family to teach, advise, and protect. In his realm he needs to be in control. To lose control is to display weakness and vulnerability to his family.
In extremely specific circumstances losing control is allowable, but 99% of the time it is not. Patience is the ability to remain calm when frustration and anxiety rear their ugly heads. Patience is not easy. But your children will respect you for it.
Patience is difficult, but it is successfully cultivated through practice. Become a calm, solid rock for your children. Be there to listen to them, teach them, and show them the way, and do so in a consistently patient manner.
No/low TV time.
I don’t have a television. When I mention this, the usual reaction is disbelieving silence.
Then: “What do you do at night?”
My answer is generally “Where do you find the time to watch TV?”
It is amazing that TV is so ubiquitous that to not have one is considered outlandish enough as to be unbelievable. What is telling, however, is that the next comments after the above dialogue are often excuses about how they try to watch only “good” shows. Yeah right.
TV hypnotises. That’s all you need to know. Look around you next time you’re watching a show. Everyone looks like they are under anaesthesia. The jaw is slack, the eyes are glazed, the body is relaxed.
When you are under hypnosis you become incredibly vulnerable to suggestion. Is that what you want for your children?
In addition TV moralises in often unhealthy ways. They promote weakness, groupthink, and putting everyone else ahead of yourself. It tells you what the mob thinks you should find important, and informs you of what should cause you anxiety.
While we don’t have a telly, we do watch shows on the iPad or computer. The best part of this is the lack of ads. But we still find that the kids want more and more show time. Shows are great, as every parent knows, because they babysit well. The kids will be where you left them. But of course the downsides are:
- TV kids are generally fat
- TV kids generally have a bad diet
- TV kids lack imagination, and limit their games to mimic the shows they watch
- TV kids are more badly behaved and require more parent attention when the TV is not on, because they forget how to play independently
Turn the TV off as often as possible. The more you do it the easier your kids will find it to play independently.
Parenting is a hard task, but it is also problem solving at it’s best. Working out the reasons behind bad behaviour, and coaching your kids towards being fucking awesome is the best thing I’ve done. Let me know in the comments what your rules are. I’m always keen to learn a little more!