Yeah, this is a “proud poppa post”.
My son had a guest over this evening, and as I normally do, I retreated to my room to give them some privacy. But as I was walking out I heard this guest say, “You have one of the coolest dads ever”.
Don’t confuse that with being a negligent parent, or someone that is trying to be their child’s best friend – those aren’t true of me. But I do treat my kids like adults, and have for many years. Well, now they are adults (18 and 16) – but even as young teens, I tried to treat them as equals to me.
I don’t always do that of course – I mean, as a single Dad, I am responsible for setting and enforcing “the rules”. But as long as my kids follow the rules, I give them a lot of leeway. And privacy.
This isn’t the first time my kid’s friends have said I am a “cool dad”. I will never get tired of hearing it, but it is honestly easy to be a cool dad. Here’s how:
- Make damn sure your kids know you love them, AND that they are your friend (NOT that you are THEIR friend – it’s up to your kid to determine if you are a friend of theirs or not) . If you can’t do this then stop reading now. I can’t help you.
- Make damn sure your kids know the absolute rules. I don’t mean make sure they know your rules absolutely. What I mean is – set specific “YOU WILL NOT BREAK THIS” rules, and make them really important rules! NOT doing dishes or taking out the trash are frivolous rules. I mean important things – like don’t get pregnant/get someone pregnant. Never drive drunk or with a drunk. Study. Be honest with me – ALWAYS. Make the “YOU WILL NOT BREAK THIS” rules very clear. Repeat those rules often – but don’t add new rules. Don’t let the importance of the initial rules be diluted over time. The initial rules should be important enough that they are worth following for a lifetime.
- Laugh with your kids. Listen to their stories and share your own. Talk. Care about what they care about. KNOW what they care about.
- Play where they play. Several years ago my kids played Counter Strike online. So my friends and I (they were all employees then) put up a Counter Strike server (that was quite popular). But that is where me, my employees, and my kids all played. Together. Often. It gave me and my kids a lot to talk about.
- Understand what they are concerned with/passionate about. If you understand that – then you are probably already friends with your kid. If you don’t understand it, then you have some work to do. Understanding what your kid is interested in makes you a better parent, and a better friend. Plus, if you understand what they really love, you’ll be in a better position to help them DO that.
- Don’t raise your kids to “be something”. They won’t BE that, and/or they’ll hate you for forcing that route on them. Let your kids teach you who they are. Don’t try to determine who they are. You can’t control that.
- Tell them, every day, every chance you get, that you are proud of them. That you love them. That you respect them, and that you have expectations of them. Do not set a low standard – make your kids work, but let them play. But make sure they follow THE REALLY BIG RULES.
- RESPECT your kids. Never demean them in front of others. Understand they have weaknesses. Play to their strengths.
(I just realized – most of this is true of a spouse as well!)
OK – enough of this 🙂 I gotta get some sleep. You need a lot of energy to be a cool dad!