How to be a good father: Be Understanding (4/4)

4/4. Be Understanding

1.   Accept that your children aren’t you

Though you may have wanted your children to keep running the family business, attend your alma mater, or be a high school soccer star like you were, you have to accept the fact that your children are their own people with their own needs and desires, and that they may not align with yours. You may think that your path is the only way to happiness, but to be a good father, you have to accept that your children may have a different idea of how to run their lives.

  • Though you may think that you’re doing your best by telling your children what to do or how to live their lives, you’re actually hurting their independence by trying to control them.
  • It takes time to accept your children’s desires. If you don’t immediately understand why your son wants to be an artist when you are a doctor, ask for him to explain it to you and take the time to listen and understand.
  • If you try to control your children too much, they’ll resent you and will stop opening up.
  • Let your children make their own decisions by letting them be independent and open-minded. You may want them to play baseball, but sign them up for a variety of activities and let them decide what they like best.

2.   Be aware of the changing times

To be a good father, you have to understand that your children aren’t growing up in the same environment that you were raised in — even if you’re raising them in the same time. With globalization, the influence of social media, and the changing politics in today’s society, it’s likely that your children are less sheltered than you are and are more aware of the problems and changes in today’s society.

  • Therefore, be aware that things like body piercing, premarital sex, and world travel are more common today than they were in your time. Accept that your children are a product of the times and that they may want to explore the world more than you did.
  • You may feel like you know exactly how the world should work, but you should let your children express themselves and share their perspectives with you.

3. Accept your children’s mistakes

If you want to be an understanding father, then you have to accept that, like you, your children aren’t perfect, and that they’re bound to make mistakes. Life is full of mistakes that help your children learn, and you should accept that many lessons are necessary — whether your son gets into a minor car accident, fails a test because he didn’t study, or dates the wrong woman when he should know better.

  • If you don’t let your children fail once in a while, then they won’t learn anything. Though you may want to shelter and protect them, letting them make their own mistakes will help them make more-informed decisions.
  • You should still discipline your children appropriately when they make a mistake, but you should also talk about what they did wrong and let them see the error of their ways instead of just yelling at them.

4.   Understand if your children are struggling

If you want to be a good father, then you have to be aware of when your children are having a particularly hard time and be attentive to your needs. Maybe your little boy is struggling because you moved to a new town and he doesn’t have any friends, or maybe your daughter is going through her first break-up and is emotionally wiped.

  • Though you can’t completely excuse your children’s distant or emotional behavior, you should be aware of what’s going through their heads so you can be more understanding and talk to them when they’re struggling.
  • Just saying, “I know you’re having a hard time. Want to talk about it?” will help your children see how much you care.

Try putting yourself in your child’s shoes. If you’re frustrated, understanding where your child is coming from will help you understanding his behavior.

5.   Don’t place unreasonable expectations on your children

A child’s life can be filled with pressures, from siblings to kids at school to teachers to coaches. Help your child understand their desires and assess their capabilities and limitations. Help them set achievable goals. Encourage them to meet their full potential but avoid living vicariously through them by expecting them to achieve what you had achieved or hoped to have achieved.

6.   Realize that a father’s job is never done

Do not assume that once your children turn 21, or they have a college degree, that your work raising them is done. Although it is important to encourage your children to become financially and emotionally independent, it is also important to let them know that you care and are always there for them and that they are valued.



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