1. Plan the finances!
Homer: Oh no! What have I done? I smashed open my little boy’s piggy bank, and for what? A few measly cents, not even enough to buy one beer. Wait a minute, lemme count and make sure… not even close.
If you haven’t already got a life insurance policy, a will or a savings account, now might be a good time. A quick flick through the Mothercare catalogue will leave any prospective parent (were there any doubt!) aware that bringing up a child is expensive.
2. Be true to your values and help your kids to learn from them
Lisa: I still believe in protecting animal’s rights, but that still doesn’t excuse what I did. I’m sorry for wrecking your barbecue, dad.
Homer: That’s okay, honey. I used to believe in things too.
As an expectant or new dad the values that you hold personally will be those that you reflect in your relationship with your children.
Our values are often something that we are not consciously aware of, but by taking some time to evaluate them, and then prioritise them, they provide us with a benchmark to decide whether any course of action is the right one, or wrong one, for ourselves and therefore our children. You will find that any decision and course of action you consider will either honour your values or not, and having a list of these can be a great tool in making those difficult decisions.
3. Make sure you have a good work / life balance
Marge: Homer, the plant called. They said if you don’t show up tomorrow don’t bother showing up on Monday.
Homer: Woo-hoo! Four-day weekend.
A common cause of stress to new dads is the feeling that they are being pulled in two directions at once. Most dads want to be able to be at home as much as possible to be able to provide the additional practical and emotional support that will ease the transition of a new child in to the family and help bond mum, dad and baby together.
4. Talk openly and honestly with your family
Homer: Marge? Since I’m not talking to Lisa, would you please ask her to pass me the syrup?
Marge: Dear, please pass your father the syrup, Lisa.
Lisa: Bart, tell Dad I will only pass the syrup if it won’t be used on any meat product.
Bart: You dunkin’ your sausages in that syrup homeboy?
Homer: Marge, tell Bart I just want to drink a nice glass of syrup like I do every morning.
Marge: Tell him yourself, you’re ignoring Lisa, not Bart.
Homer: Bart, thank your mother for pointing that out.
Marge: Homer, you’re not not-talking to me and secondly I heard what you said.
Homer: Lisa, tell your mother to get off my case.
Bart: Uhhh, dad, Lisa’s the one you’re not talking to.
Homer: Bart, go to your room.
From birth children learn from their mums about the importance of friendship and relationship building. They learn essential life skills from the social networks that mums make. But it is important for the rounded development of our children, that we as dads, also take responsibility for helping our children learn how to build and maintain relationships.
5. Encouraging your kids helps them to practice and learn
Homer: Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.
One of the most frequent complaints of people in the workplace is the lack of feedback and encouragement that they receive from their managers. The argument goes that if you don’t get any feedback then you don’t know how good a job you are doing. Receiving feedback inspires you to work better and work harder. In the same way that feedback is empowering for us at work, so is it empowering for our children to receive feedback and encoureagement from us.
6. Encourage Healthy Eating
Homer: Lisa, would you like a donut?
Lisa: No thanks. Do you have any fruit?
Homer: This has purple in it. Purple is a fruit.
Do you get your five a day? Well, if you don’t I guess that’s your choice, but while our children our young we have to make their nutritional choices for them and encourage them to eat a varied, balanced, healthy diet.
7. Be open and honest with your partner
Marge: This is the worst thing you’ve ever done.
Homer: You say that so often that it lost it’s meaning.
In a relationship where there is love and trust you can be sure that you can have disagreements and misunderstandings that can sensibly be resolved, but it is crucial to communicate your point of view.
8. Be A Good Role Model
Bart: I am through with working. Working is for chumps.
Homer: Son, I’m proud of you! I was twice your age when I figured that out.
The way that you behave will directly influence the behaviour of your kids. Each time that you over react or get stressed, your kids will.
9. Engage with your kids
Homer: Then we figured out we could just park them in front of the TV. That’s how I was raised and I turned out TV.
As dads we find ourselves having to play catch up when our baby is born because we haven’t had the same closeness and opportunities to bond with our baby as mum has had during the nine months of pregnancy. Once the baby is born there are many ways to connect with the baby. The first one is to make sure that you are around at home to spend time with him!
10. Be consistent even when the kids are naughty
Manager: Do you like children?
Homer: What do you mean, all the time? Even when they’re nuts?
Rules and boundaries are only truly effective when the relationship between dad and his child is loving and trusting. A child who is told “Just wait until your father gets home,” where dad plays the role of bad cop, can rightly be expected to be fearful of his dad. When a rule or boundary needs to be enforced it is part of a minority of the time spent together and not the first interaction on dad’s return from work.
Image credit: Daniel Miller, Flickr