Happy Fatherhood


If your kids did everything they were told, it would be a little creepy. It would also put tremendous pressure on you to be a perfect parent; very rarely, your advice may not be the best. Eventually, you'd get frustrated and ask them to stop doing everything you tell them to. Image the confusion...

So be thankful then that your child will certainly not do what you tell them and will be unlikely to heed your wise advice. It is therefore, for the most part, better if you keep quiet; or perhaps pretend you're somewhere else when your child is playing in a way that is likely to hurt themselves a little.

Sometimes though, and surprisingly infrequently really, you really do have some valuable advice, without which your child is unlikely to survive to adulthood.

The process of getting them to do as they're told at such times is called discipline when the subject is your child. For anyone else it's called coercion, and perhaps blackmail, or bribery could be added to the charges.

The main thing though is to let the child know you're displeased with what they've done

Against the advice of the wise men of Brussels, I have smacked my toddler, and he bawled his eyes out. I have smacked him harder playfully and he laughed, but he knew the difference because this time I was clearly upset with him, and actually this is what drives a child to change their behaviour. It's often hard to believe, but what your toddler wants, more than anything else, is your approval. The withdrawal of that approval is punishment enough, whether expressed by yelling at them, smacking them or sending them to the naughty corner. .

After crying, and insisting he wouldn't do it again, he forgot the whole incident within a minute and was back to doing what I'd punished him for. This obviously left me wondering how to escalate the punishment, and that is the problem with smacking, and perhaps the problem with punishment generally.

In this case, he was jumping in puddles on a cold day on the beach, and we had no suitable clothes for him to change into. I turned a blind eye - figuring that being wet and cold would be part of a natural learning process and punishment enough, and trying to fight him over it would ruin everyone's day. It's fair to say that being so inconsistent is certainly the wrong thing to do.

Everyone gets a different upbringing, just as everyone gets a unique double slinky of DNA. If you look around at your friends, you'll see that despite diverse upbringings. most of them are fun loving and content individuals. That should be sufficient proof, if it were needed, that whatever you do is alright in the long run.

Kids have a natural exploratory nature and inhibiting it is the psychological equivalent of Chinese foot binding. However, you needn't worry about that; there's nothing you can do that will stop them seeing what would happen if they did the opposite of what you demand, or simply forgetting what you said 3 seconds previously.

Don't despair though: by the time your nipper leaves home; he won't be eating spaghetti with his hands, he won't drink his bath water, and he'll keep away from the edge when it seems prudent to do so. All those acts of 'naughtiness', have unpleasant consequences, varying from sticky fingers to falling in the river, and they'll ebb away on their own.

You can ignore them, and have a peaceful life, or you can try cajoling them into behaving themselves, but the more battles you fight, the less pleasant your fatherhood years.

There is a whole other class of behaviour though, where the consequences are not immediately obvious. Stealing sweets for instance, means you get to keep your pocket money, and get that addictive sugar rush; it makes sense, no?

It is these deviances which need to be corrected; consistently, immediately and firmly.

Some parents (and grandparents) make threats of increasing magnitude and absurdity. ("If you take your shoes off again, the police will arrest you and take you away from your mummy and daddy"). If you take that tack, sooner or later your bluff will be called and eventually you'll be exposed as the liar you are, and it'll be hard to rekindle their respect in your word.

Some psychologists advocate a saintly approach to parenting, and recommend against parents showing any anger to their children. If that is your nature, then fine, but I've experimented and I'm pretty sure it's not mine.

My contrasting opinion is that it is important to be natural to your children. If you feel like kissing their bouncy cheeks, you should do it. If they whack your nose with a claw hammer, it would be unnatural to say "please don't do that dear, that hurts daddy" while you calmly try to retrieve your nostrils from your brain and show no pain. If they've really hurt you, show pain, it will shock them and leave them in no doubt about the difference between hurting you and the minor annoyance of being slightly impolite.

Talking with other dads, particularly dads who do a lot of the parenting, rather than the ones who go to work early, come home late, and discover a hobby for the weekends, it's inevitable that your child will frustrate you, and that in the ensuing rage you may yell at your child, or punish them unreasonably. We all do it.

Mum's seem to be more gentle with their children in general, however the father's role is vital, and perhaps the difference in approach to the mother is what makes it so.

Kids coming from homes without fathers account for:

63 percent of youth suicides
90 percent of all homeless and runaway children
85 percent of all children exhibiting behavioral disorders come from father-deprived homes,
71 percent of all high school dropouts
75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers
70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions
85 percent of all youths in prisons grew up in father-deprived homes.

(from from http://www.mensdefense.org/STM_Book/FatherDeprivation.htm )

Do whatever you feel the need to do; just be there for them and it will all work out fine.

Posted on 2011-02-20 06:39:11

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>Discipline 2011-02-20 06:39:11