Being a dad to a four-year-old daughter is a wonderful and a challenging journey.
Once you get past the sleepless nights, loss of privacy and the expulsion of fluids that can be distressing to the human senses, being a dad can be an amazing experience.
When my daughter was born, I remember feeling excited and anxious all at the same time. Excited for obvious reasons.
Anxious because even though I consciously comprehended how my life was about to change, I didn't quite know how to prepare myself for the inevitable changes ahead of me.
This is what I have learnt in the time that I have been a dad:
1. Nothing, and I mean nothing prepared me for the ride
I read the books, I got the advice from existing dads, but when the moment came, all logic and prior knowledge I thought I had...abandoned me. Having said that, my intuition and instincts kicked in and I naturally figured out a lot of things “on the run” so to speak.
2. There is no point having a nice house or furniture
Everything gets damaged, everything's broken, and there's a lot of crap everywhere. Having said that, there is something heart-warming about coming to a home that is well lived in and full of cuddly toys and dolls (minus the ones that are missing a head).
3. It doesn't get easier
No it doesn't get easier. The problems don't go away. They just become different. Having said that, I stopped worrying about easy and I got on with the job. I became more resilient and I certainly became better at taking challenges in my stride.
4. The true power of a “woman’s breast” becomes evident
It's never been a hard thing for me to appreciate a woman's bosom. That comes to most men effortlessly. Having said that, I only got a proper understanding of the power of a woman's bosom when I realised that no amount of my animated facial expressions was a match for the sight of her mother’s breast.
5. I understood unconditional love for the first time
Of course, there are many people I love with all my heart, and this includes my family, my parents, my spouse and my friends. Having said that, now I understand not only what it means to fall in love unconditionally, but also what it means to fall in love every day.
6. The true test of leadership begins
I have studied leadership relentlessly for years. Having said that, the true test of character, consistency and commitment really kicks in when you are totally in charge of another human beings’ development, safety and life.
7. Cherish your time with them
One thing that amazes me is how quickly the years have flown. My daughter is almost 5 (but as they often say, she’s going on 15). The time we have with them is short and precious — and we need to make the most of it. I make a genuine effort to spend as much time as I can with her, and make it quality, loving and educational.
Having said that, I need to become better at being not just physically present, but also mentally present, because I know for a fact that my daughter can sense, and makes it very clear, when I mentally drift from being present.
I found a list that I wanted to share. It's not mine. I don't know where I got it from. I keep it in my phone and refer to it every so often. I hope it provides some benefit.
**** 29 Ways To Be A Better Dad ****
Be present with your children (definitely one for me to improve).
Heap lavish amounts of encouragement on your kids and say I love you a lot. Also Hugs and kisses are golden so be generous.
Focus on the positives when speaking to your children.
Work on improving your relationship with your wife or partner.
Take time out from work for family time.
Laugh with your kids a lot
Learn new things by teaching your children about them.
Hold your kids accountable for their actions and words.
Do something wacky and unpredictable in front of your kids.
Spend some time one-on-one with your child/ren.
Get moving. Have a fitness plan in place and get your kids to join in. Make your health and fitness a priority so you’ll be around for your kids for a long time.
Take more walks, and leave the car at home. Get out in nature with the family.
Admit you’re wrong when you are.
Teach a new dad what you’ve learned so far.
Take time for yourself, so you can bring that sense of fulfillment with you to the family.
Remember what you hated to hear from your parents as a kid and vow to be different.
Read to your children.
Open a savings account for your child/ren.
Once in a while ask your kids what you can do better, then do it better.
Count to 10 before you react to your children’s actions.
Remember that kids mirror our actions, so watch what you say to or around them.
Parenting is a shared responsibility. Jump in and do something mum normally does.
When a child does something not so nice, separate their actions from them in your mind. A child is never bad, even though their actions may be.
The next time you feel like giving up on something, do it anyway and use it as a teaching moment.
Unplug the TV and pretend it’s broken once in a while. Or hide it if you have to.
Go with your child to school once in a while. Meet the teacher and ask how you can help.
Teach your kids to help others and to share.
Speak as one with your wife / partner, so your kids don’t play you off on one another.
Do you say yes all the time? Use no when you mean it, even if they don’t like it.
What has being a dad taught you?
Happy Father’s Day
Ron Malhotra is the founder of The Successful Male and the Editor of The Successful Male Magazine.