Since becoming a father in 2001 I have learned a few lessons and this morning I was reminded of a few of them that I thought I would pass along.
1. Laugh with you kids, even if they're not funny. There is tremendous power in laughter. It builds relationship. It creates memories. Have fun and be goofy. When our kids see us as humans and not only as power figures in charge of dispensing food and clothing, we become real and approachable.
2. Admit your mistakes. Don't be afraid to say, "I'm sorry". Let's be honest, that's a tough one for many parents because we think it puts us in a position of weakness. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Your ability to say, "I'm sorry, I was wrong" is a powerful lesson for your kids. You are literally teaching them what it means to be humble.
3. Ask questions and be prepared to wait for answers. Sometimes when we ask our kids questions we're met with silence or we're met with, "good", "fine", "same", etc. If you allow those answers to be satisfactory, then that's all you'll ever get. Insist on more, insist on names, locations, details but be prepared to wait. Sometimes our kids become convinced that they can wait us out on the answers. If they wait long enough, you'll give up. Prove them wrong and wait patiently.
4. Talk about the awkward stuff. The only awkward conversation is the one that doesn't happen often enough. The "birds and the bees" conversation is only weird the first few times and then it becomes normal. Our kids will always take their cues from us as parents, if we act weird about it, they'll act weird about it.
5. Stay connected. Check their phone, I mean your phone. You are paying for it right? "But that's an invasion of their privacy." That's crazy talk. As parents our primary spiritual responsibility is to shepherd our children and yet we tend to allow them to spend a vast amount of unsupervised time on social media. What are they texting? Who are they texting? What social media feeds are they frequenting?
Hopefully, you're way ahead of me on the learning curve. If not, let's work together to be better parents.