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In general, society sees dads as falling short as parents compared to moms. I agree with that--in general. I know many wonderful fathers. In fact, almost all my male friends are great dads. But when you look at the fathers in a much larger framework, across the USA--absent and distant fathers are contributing to an epidemic of social issues. Even effective dads could be more effective with just a few changes. But what are some of the possible reasons for men coming up short compared to women as parents? Here are my observations as a fatherhood writer.

  1. Dads do not carry or give birth to the baby--a distinct disadvantage in connecting. The baby has heard the mother’s heartbeat for months. The mother has felt the kicks. A natural consequence, dad is an outsider for the most part until the child is born.

  2. Dads read about sports, finance, politics, outdoors, bar-be-cuing, etc.–not parenting. It’s true! It was even true for me. I blame myself, but I also blame the fact that few parenting books or articles are written with the father in mind. It’s a chicken or the egg problem. Would more parenting topics for dads be written if they would read them, or would they read more if they were written specifically for dads? I guess the response to my book may answer that.

  3. Dads are told they aren’t as good as moms are with their kids—and they believe it. Call a man a bad sport, or a poor leader, or a whiner and he will be p*ssed! Tell him he can’t parent without his wife’s direction or help, he may just shrug. Some mothers overrule fathers in parenting which should never happen. There must be compromise and agreement in parenting.

  4. Dads don’t talk to each other about being fathers. I watched the Today show the other day and Willie Geist had some of his friends on the air to talk about being dads. When the segment was over he said, paraphrasing, “it was interesting because we never talk about being dads to each other”. It’s true. It’s very rare for men to talk about being dads.

  5. Although changing a bit, dads are not at home with their kids as much as moms. There are more moms working and more stay-at-home-dads (SAHD) than ever before. But dads still are away from home much more than moms. Only 5-6% of families have SAHDs.

  6. Dads assume they are doing the right things as dads, and don’t look to improve. In general, men think providing and being around are all that’s necessary. Well, it’s a good start but there is so much more! It is a rare dad that will consciously look for ways to be a better father.

  7. Nature favors moms as caretakers. Women seem to have a sixth sense about parenting that most men don’t have. I think most everyone would agree. Of course, exceptions do exist.

  8. Society expects moms to take on the bigger parenting role. Historically, it has always been this way. It doesn’t have to be so, and it may not be that way for your situation, but I expect that expectation will remain for quite some time.

  9. Competition among men does not include being good fathers. Be it softball, arm-wrestling, checkers, or fantasy sports, men like to compete. When you compete, you try to get better. But men don’t compete as parents and there is no compulsion to get better other than your personal desire.

It would be unfair to label all men as the weaker parent.  But when you see the issues in our society, such as poverty, crime, teen pregnancy and violence, that exist in broad areas of our country, especially in inner cities, know that a primary cause is ineffective families due to missing fathers.

Of the nine reasons fathers may trail mothers as parents, only #1 and #7 are not going to change. The rest can change and have been changing as of late, but the process has been slow.  Somehow we need to encourage and mentor fathers or fathers-to-be in their responsibilities as parents, thereby interrupting the cycle of ineffective families. Nothing will change until the offspring of ineffective families get help, or find the energy/desire, to pull themselves out of their situation.

Of those men who are involved fathers, know that your different style is of great value to both your sons and daughters. Two parents means twice the love, twice the variety and twice the protection, at the very least! And as important, being an involved father brings a
 masculine view of the world to your children, a valuable complement to the feminine view brought by their mothers, allowing their insights and understanding of the world and to be balanced.

Note:
For any dad, my book, "The Power of Dadhood: Be the Father Your Child Needs" will help you, at a minimum, with reasons #2, #3, and #6.


 
 
PicturePhoto: M. Smith
Who is the most influential person in your life? Is it your father? Your mother? Maybe both? Maybe it is someone else that took an interest in you, like a teacher or a coach. Of course, parents are the most likely to have interest in your success and that is why parenting should be purposeful. The best parents, when having the good fortune of cooperative children, find they are free from any stress or much concern regarding their children's futures. Why? Because good parents teach their kids how to act, how to think, and make wise decisions.

A wonderful and wise lady, who I have met only once, but have come to admire from afar is Patricia. Patricia and I are connected distantly through marriage. Her son is my daughter’s brother-in-law. Social media has made her husband, James, one of my favorite friends although from a distance since they currently reside in Shanghai. James has supported me for years in my endeavors to “Help Fathers to be Dads”!

Patricia told the story of a speech her son Kevin made in Chinese language class while attending Junior High in the United States. The subject of the speech was to be about “the most influential person in your life”. Being very attentive and wonderful parents, Patricia guessed the most influential person Kevin would choose would be his mother or father, maybe even his older brother. Patricia offered to help Kevin by listening to his speech, but he said, “No thanks Mom, I got this.”

As the story goes, and it is a true one, Kevin got up before the class and announced, “The most influential person in my life is….me!” 

Patricia wrote, “Apparently, he made the speech with sufficient reasons to justify the statement well enough to win himself an award – without his mother’s help of course. I actually could not recall what friends had told me about his speech and Kevin, of course, did not care to repeat or to elaborate.”

What struck me about Patricia’s story is the paradox that she and her husband were so influential over their son, giving him the strength, knowledge, and attitude to know that, indeed, he himself, Kevin, will always be the most influential person in his life, as we all are. He knew from his upbringing that, while we all thrive on mentoring and guidance, we also must listen, evaluate, and decide who we will listen to and what values we will embrace and put into action.

We are, ourselves, the most influential people in our lives! We are the ones who take action or inaction. We are the decision makers and difference makers. Of course, we need intelligent and caring people to teach us life's lessons--so there will hopefully always be very influential people in your life. But don’t fool yourself! You will always be the most influential person that will ever guide you in your choices, in your goals, in your life!

Teach this very important lesson to your children and they will understand that their ultimate success and happiness really depends only on them!

www.michaelbyronsmith.com


 
 
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It’s Fathers’ Day, or as I prefer to call it, “Dads’ Day”. It’s the day dads get some recognition from their children for the devotion, love, and sacrifices they have made in raising them. Usually well deserved!

Children remember tender times, such as when dad checked under their beds and assured them that there really wasn’t anything under there to be afraid of--after watching a scary movie. They appreciated that he, during thunderstorms, held and comforted them. And on Saturdays, he made French toast! When there were dance recitals to watch or games to coach, dad would be their cheering them on and bragging on the phone about them to their grandparents.

Yes, dad was someone you wanted to be like. Little girls whimsically want to marry their dads when they grew up. Boys recall following dad around, “helping” him fix things around the house and wiping their forehead when dad wiped his. And, of course, kids remember when dad had to set them straight about how to treat others when they may have been rude or selfish, knowing it was for their own good.

Now that I’m not only a dad but a granddad, I think about those things kids will remember and question myself, “was I really a good dad?” Hopefully you will know that you are. But you have such a great influence on your children throughout their lives, you must contemplate your fathering style and reevaluate yourself at times. You may not realize until you question yourself, that you’ve been a little short tempered, or you have been involved too sparingly. Things you need to fix quickly!

Following is an article I wrote for my publisher Familius entitled, “Dad: What’s Your Fathering Style?” The purpose of the article is to remind dads to occasionally reflect on how they teach, mentor, and love their children. Even the best dad can learn to be a better one if he just asks himself a few questions. 

If you have not yet read my article on Familius.com, please take time to read it below. As stated by Billy Graham, A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets of our society”

Read here: “Dads: What’s Your Fathering Style”


 
 
PicturePhoto credit: Alex Heuer. KWMU
Father’s Day is almost here! It was my dream for many years to be talking about a book I wrote on being a dad--and I imagined it happening just prior to Fathers’ Day. And the dream became true this week, further establishing my belief of visualization, concentration, and hard work! 

All authors will tell you how difficult it is to be a first-time author, especially in drawing attention to your work! In recent weeks I have had four book signings, five TV interviews, one radio interview, and one national podcast on ‘blogtalkradio’ with a speaking engagement coming on Saturday. But the best way to get the word out is word of mouth



I plan on taking a break for a while after Fathers’ Day, but I will continue to look for ways to get my book into the hands of the right people--because giving a child a good start in life will change their entire life for the better! 

I now have a new dream. In it, I casually walk into a fast food establishment or library, and in the corner I see a man, young or older, reading a copy of my book. That would mean someone knows about The Power of Dadhood, and they care about being a better father. I can see it in my head. Someday I will see it with my eyes!

For this last post prior to Fathers’ Day, I am including a link to my interview on the “Families Matter” program on the “World of Ink” network. After some introductions, I come on board at about 2:50. It is an hour long, or a long hour, but could be of help to someone you know, whether it be a mother or father. 



Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there, and thank you to the moms that, too often, have to parent without a father's help.

<http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork/2015/06/17/woi-familius-author-michael-byron-smith-talks-about-dadhood>
 
 
PicturePhoto: M. Smith
Any wonder that Mother’s Day is like the 4th of July, while in comparison, Father’s Day is like Flag Day? Florists can’t keep up with the flowers, chocolates are sold out, restaurants have long waiting times, and long distance calls to Moms melt the phone lines. It is advertised for weeks upon weeks as Hallmark Cards makes a fortune. 

On the other hand, Father’s Day is known for bad ties, new shorts, and bar-be-cues by dads that think they are the only ones that know how to do it. There is much less time to build up for Father’s Day because it closely follows Mother’s Day. While I was trying to get book signings and publicity for my book on Dadhood, I found no one could even begin to think of Father’s Day until Mother’s Day had passed. I understood!

It was predicted that consumers would spend 7.4 billion dollars less for Father’s Day than they did for Mother’s Day. The National Retail Federation estimated that shoppers will spend an average of $115 for gifts for fathers this year. (I think I’ve been getting shorted!) That’s much less than the $173 that was spent for mom on Mother’s Day this year.

In general, mothers really deserve the extra attention! When it comes to parenting, most moms are the heavy hitters while there are some dads who are more like pinch hitters. Of course there are exceptions but women, in general, are much more dedicated to their children than men. By more dedicated, I mean more observant, more understanding, and more in tune with their children. Nature and tradition has provided women with certain nurturing skills men often lack in raising children. 

None-the-less, dad’s deserve more recognition on Father’s Day. If were up to me, I’d drop Father’s Day and celebrate Dad’s Day. Becoming a father is a biological act, often done without thinking or caring, while being a Dad is a career! It’s a very tough, demanding, but lucrative career where you are rewarded with love, satisfaction and beautiful memories. More often than not, you can eventually be promoted to granddad! And that is grand indeed!

While mere fathers are overshadowed by mothers, dads can often overshadow moms. Dads are more noticed by their children for the sometimes small, but important things they do while the hard work moms perform can be taken for granted. Moms can tell you this. I wrote about this in an earlier article, “Mothers are Soil, Fathers are Rain”. While both are equally necessary to raise a crop of children, the rain is noticed more, even though the soil is where children's roots exist.

So while history proves that mothers are the stars of parenting. It also proves that dads are an integral part of raising healthy children. If as many ‘fathers’ were ‘dads’, as ‘mothers’ are ‘moms’, we would have a much better world with happier, healthier, and safer children.

So Happy Dad’s Day to all you dads out there. Thanks for being responsible for the lives you have brought into this world! 


 
 
NOTE: My publisher, Familius, has printed excerpts from Chapter 10 "Building Strong Children". To read these excerpts, click here or on the image above. Currently available on sale at 40% off at Familius.

  • Father's Day is approaching (June 21st). Let the dads in your life know just how important they are to the welfare of their of their children. 
  • The sad statistics of crime, teen pregnancy, school drop-outs, drug use, etc. of kids without involved dads is astounding!
  • Most men won't think to buy this book for themselves. We need mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, grandparents and friends to get it for them. 
  • Share it, tell your library to get it for those that can't buy books. 
  • Very easy to read or thumb through, it is written for the everyday dad, by an everyday dad.

About this book:

This is a mentoring book. It mentors men who are fathers, especially young fathers, and fathers-to-be. Mentors are not necessarily experts, but they’ve been there before. They can give you some tips on what works and what doesn’t work.

While some men thrive naturally as fathers, there are too many who don’t, and the results can be disastrous. We must not judge these men because we don’t know what they’ve been through, how they were raised, or how they see things as a unique personality. But they could use a mentor, especially if their father was not there for them.

As I was growing up, I felt the need for a dad in my life and the lives of my siblings. Our father was often absent or unreachable, whether away from home or in the next room.

At an early age, I became determined to create myself as a real dad—one who provides his children with love, interaction, mentoring, and discipline—not a father who contributes only DNA.

I have gathered in this book my experiences and thoughts, the thoughts of others, and the personal stories of friends and family so that men young or not so young can move themselves beyond fatherhood to the irreplaceable state of Dadhood.

Throughout this book, I capitalize the D in Dad to emphasize the difference between merely being a biological father and achieving the ideal of being a wonderful, loving, and involved Dad.

Please be aware that it is NEVER too late to become a capital D Dad, and that your relationship with your kids will be better, stronger, and healthier when you show you care, whether your kids are infants, children, teenagers, or adults.

As you travel the road from fatherhood to Dadhood through the pages of this book, I will guide you to stop along the way and assess where you are. It’s not a matter of flying a supersonic jet to travel from fatherhood to the state of Dad. It is a steady, intentional, mile-by-mile, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road process that can move any man from any background to the consequential and fulfilling state of Dadhood (and Granddadhood). And when you take this road, you are making society better, one child at a time.

 
 
PicturePhoto: Rachel McCarthy
Dads are in the envious position of being like ice cream. What kid doesn’t like ice cream? I took my two year old grandson to an ice cream parlor a week ago and got him a bowl of ice cream. It was supposed to be the kiddie size, but they accidently gave him a larger portion. He scooped up that vanilla fudge swirl like it was going to vanish before he could finish. When he took the last bite and stared into the empty bowl and said, ‘Put …more…in there.’ I laughed, his mom laughed, and we gently told him “that is enough for now”.

Ice cream comes in a lot of flavors and so do fathers. Whatever flavor of father you may be, you are your children’s favorite! Unless, of course, you give them a colossal reason not to be--and it would take a colossal reason. Children are programmed to love their parents just like they seem to be programmed to love ice cream. The only difference is loving their parents is a much more healthy act.

Kids that never have ice cream, or the love of a father, don’t know what they are missing. They only see that other kids enjoy both and wonder what it is like. They are robbed of something very sweet in life.

Men, who give up on fathering, cheat not only their children, but themselves. The love, the smiles, the hugs are what you will recall the most.  And seriously, it is not difficult to be a good father. Of course there are difficult times to go through, but that is where the satisfaction comes in by working though issues and helping your child be a success in life.

Seven Tips Fathers Should Know

Here are seven tips to help any man be a caring father.  These are tips from my book, “The Power of Dadhood” and I am expanding on them here. Any man who is aware of and accepts these important aspects of fathering will have no trouble being the flavor of the month, every month!

  1. Neither he nor any other father knows everything or ever will. We do the best we can in every situation and should do what most dads won’t do--ask questions, read up, keep working at it.
  2. His mistakes must not discourage him. Who doesn’t make mistakes? As I said in a recent article, “Success is a series of mistakes interrupted by persistence.” Never quit teaching out of frustration or fear of failure.
  3. His actions are being observed. This is where you must have great awareness. Your actions speak so much louder than words! You can’t be the same man with your kids around as you may be with your drinking or sports buddies. Have principles you live by and teach through action.
  4. He must be consistent, loving, sincere, and available. This may be tip numero uno!!
  5. Humor will be an ally. Be fun to be around! I talked to a 56 year old woman last week who told me she was afraid of her dad. I didn’t take that to mean she respected him. I saw in her face that she was afraid to be herself around him. Joke around and be silly sometimes and watch your kids run into your arms.
  6. His children must experience struggle (supervised, if possible) to learn and grow. As dads, we should never solve our children’s problems for them. We should teach them the skills and resilience to solve them on their own, while we look over their shoulder.
  7. Every child is unique and learns differently and at a different pace. One size does not fit all, not when raising more than one child. Some need a push. Some need reins. Some need more attention at certain times than the others. Never compare your kids because they all have different strengths. One may run faster, but the slower one may read faster.  Rewards and consequences could very well be different for each child. A young child with a slight impairment may be cheered more openly and loudly just by taking simple steps whereas the child without the impairment would not get the same attention for the same achievement. 
Summary

Yes, dads are like ice cream. But different from ice cream, when a child says, ‘Put …more…in there.’ You don’t say, “That is enough for now”.

Unless of course the dad is being seriously silly that day!


 
 
In my last article, I discussed teaching your children what real success is all about—and it’s not easy. There are many ways and areas in which to achieve success. In this article, I’m quoting my book which names those five different areas of success and how I define them.

I got the idea about having different tools (areas) which can bring success because I’m a huge baseball fan. In baseball, a player who is described as being a ‘Five-Tool’ player is rare and very much sought after. For those that don’t know, I will explain what the five tools are for baseball success and for success in general. A famous player who had these five baseball tools was Willie Mays, and he is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you have the five tools of personal success, you may not end up in a hall of fame, but you will likely be very successful and much happier than most.

From Chapter 12 of The Power of Dadhood, “Money Versus Success

Five-Tool Success

One’s financial standing can be a significant measure of success, but there are several other dimensions of success that measure a person’s true worth. Young adults and many parents tend to forget or fail to consider these other dimensions. Understanding that money and finances are just one aspect of success, you can help your children develop other viewpoints on what success really is.

In baseball, a “five-tool” player is one who can run, throw, field, hit for average, and hit with power. Few players fit the description of a five-tool player. When they do fulfill their potential in this way, they attain fame and fortune.

Highly successful people also have tools in five areas of success:

•      Financial Success: Not necessarily having a lot of money, but knowing how to manage the money you do have.

•      Relationship Success: Having loving friends and family members who can be counted on in good times and bad, just as they count on you.

•      Intellectual Success: Maximizing your intellect by being open to others, their ideas, and their culture. Always being open to learning. Having confidence, patience, and empathy while understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and those of others.

•      Physical Success: Giving your body and mind the exercise, nutrients, and rest they need.

•      Spiritual Success: Being able to live outside the needs of your ego with love and understanding for people and all living things.

As fathers, giving our children these tools of success would be our own truest success. Look at each of your children. Which of these five tools does each of them need your help with? It will likely be different for each child. Spend time with each to teach, mentor, and encourage them as they make their way to success.

If you find one tool in which they all need help, it may be related to how they were raised. Hopefully you can recognize their shortcomings even if you have the same issues. To overcome these shortcomings, listen to the trusted advice of others, read voraciously, and practice what you learn. It will help if you can teach your children with the conviction of experience rather than just book learning.

Summary

I discussed the notion of the 'Five Tools of Success' in the chapter on "Money and Success" to emphasize that money is one small factor of success. Sometimes it's not a factor at all. These lessons are learned by your children, not in one sitting or two, but by continuously applying good principles of parenting like those discussed in my book and others.


Note: I’ve had mild criticism regarding ‘Spiritual Success’. Obviously, I was very non-specific, and I did that on purpose. Some people have specific ideas on spiritual success and I respect that. My book doesn't take away from those feelings. When you read the book, you will see I was not brought up in a religious atmosphere, but I highly recommend that all children be brought up with values that are commonly taught through religion. I think it is unfortunate that our nation is becoming more secular, but all children should be brought up with the values in my book, whether you call those values Christian, common morality, tenets all should live by, principles of life, etc. I didn’t want to exclude or dissuade anyone from reading it based on prejudices of their particular religion. To that point, having a general look at spiritualism has allowed my book to also be published in China where Christianity and Judaism are not as common as the western world.

 
 
PicturePhoto: A fisherman off the coast of Italy, M.Smith
Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” 
― Winston S. Churchill


Teaching your children is something you do even if you aren’t proactive in doing so. They learn from watching you, whether that would be how to hold a spoon, or how to treat others. As a parent, you are being watched more than you are listened to. 


If you have a positive attitude and lots of determination, your children will be likely to follow your example. When they see that success begins and ends with effort--by watching you, it may be the most important lesson you can impart. The trouble with success is it takes so much work, because real success follows failure or overcoming obstacles--otherwise their is nothing to conquer. 

Going through failure is not pleasant. It is so much easier to avoid work, avoid controversy, and avoid stress. It's much simpler to not expose yourself nor risk being vulnerable to criticism. But in my opinion, the most damaging criticism is to be accused of not trying. It's easy to not try and it's easy to criticize others. I regret that many times I have been guilty myself of not trying enough!

PictureA tree in a Tuscany field, M. Smith
Failure gets a bad rap.

Failure is in the formula for my definition of success. 

Success is a series of failures interrupted by persistence.

With persistence, failure is just a step towards success. If you want to chop down a tree and your first whack doesn’t fell the tree, you have temporarily failed. You may fail 100 or more times before you find success and the tree comes down. Kids can understand that. Tell them life is like chopping down a tree. The bigger the tree, the more failures may be required before success.

There should be word for a person that never tries anything. A really nasty word that allows failure it’s due as a milestone towards success. I think ‘slacker’ is a descriptive word that is often used.  ‘I failed’ has a tone of effort. 'I am a slacker' tells me there is no effort. Slacker is a noun that has no verb form. After all, a verb usually denotes action. I run. I sing. I work. I play. Those are acts. “I slack” may sound like an act, but you don’t have to do anything to do it.

Even winning is not always success. If you are a high school track star and win a foot race against two fifth graders, three grandmothers, and one sumo wrestler, you may have won, but you can’t really call that a success. What have you achieved? To improve, you must be challenged by someone of equal or higher potential, or by a task that requires true determination and struggle.

Giving trophies to children for participation is a false representation of success. We seem to do this too often and it sends the wrong message. Being a participant far exceeds being a slacker, but making passive participation appear to be all it takes for success misleads young people. 

As a young officer in the military, I once approached my commander about awards he was presenting to members of our unit who participated in an exercise in which I was involved. I knew some of these awards were not earned while others were well deserved. I asked him about this, explaining my view that those that didn’t earn the awards wouldn’t appreciate them, and those that did earn the awards would see they were given indiscriminately and their value would be lost. 

To no one’s surprise, he threw me out of his office--shouting at me not to tell him how to run his unit! He had reasons for his choices but they were more political than sincere. He was embarrassed by my challenge and I understood that. But afterwards, he was very supportive and even promoted me soon after this incident. I may have been naive, but he knew my principles were correct. False praise or recognition is not productive.

Parents must be careful to walk the line between true support and false praise. Children will either be misled by your false praise, or will not know when true praise is sincere. Give them challenges and praise worthy efforts on their part. Watch them beam when they succeed after they have had doubts. 


Be a good teacher and a great example. It's easier said than done and you may fail sometimes, but be persistent, because 'success is a series of failures interrupted by persistence'.

 
 
PicturePhoto by Rachel McCarthy
I’ve been blogging about fatherhood for a couple of years while finishing my book, looking for a publisher, being edited, getting published, and now struggling with marketing—something new to me. Beyond that, my grandchildren have increased from one to four in that time. My wife and I help out two days a week watching our grandchildren and I have other irons in the fire. I enjoy ALL of this but...writing two quality articles a week can be difficult.

I have been trained as a military officer, pilot, and engineer, but not as a writer. My ideas on 'dadhood' are experiential. I'm not a Ph.D or M.D.-- I'm just a guy who cares about kids, families, and communities. Writing decent articles regarding fatherhood becomes a challenge at times, like now, when multitasking seems everlasting.

I rarely take passages from my book to write my articles.  I want to be timely and deliver as much information as possible. But I’m including a passage from my book in this article for three reasons. 
  1. I need a ‘brain break’.
  2. I want to promote my book since we are just three weeks from Father’s Day. 
  3. Most importantly, wanting to learn can be trained into your kids!

Please read this excerpt from “
The Power of Dadhood: Become the Father Your Children Need”, in Chapter 10 “Building Strong Children”.


 Education is Crucial

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.” — Thomas H. Huxley

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” — Proverb

These quotes are true whether your child is three or thirty. When it comes to some things you want your children to learn, like walking, potty training, or riding a bike, you just have to wait until they are ready. 

Occasionally, there is a clash between the truth of this philosophy and the practicality of the situation.

If your child isn’t interested in school, it’s not likely he or she will do well. You can take your children to school, but you can’t make them learn. 

It can be a battle because you just can’t let them fall behind. 

As in many things, early preventive measures are better than searching for a cure later on. The preventive measures in this case involve opening your children’s eyes early on to adventures and wonders, such as a trip to the zoo, reading to them regularly, or vacations to interesting places. These will open their horizons and stimulate their natural curiosities.

Early experiences and an environment of learning have a great impact on the brain of a child. Canyons carved by rivers first took shape from the paths of raindrops that fell millions of years ago. The networks of the brain act in a similar way. Early impressions will be marked deeply into the neural networks of a child’s brain. Experiences can cause a path to pleasure or a path to pain. The next stimulation will take the paths of least resistance in the brain.

Too much negative stimulation will cause a path that always leads to pain, and then that path will be blocked to avoid the pain. Positive stimulation will lead to pleasure and a desire to continue. Your goal as a Dad is to create an environment of learning that is fun and positively stimulating and that leads to a craving for knowledge, exploration, and discovery.

“Just as eating against one’s will is injurious to health, so studying without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in.”

—Leonardo da Vinci

Teaching your children how to think as opposed to what to think is a priceless gift they can use forever in their education and life in general. Just as it is more important to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish, a child with the ability to think can face the world with more courage and less vulnerability.

From the youngest ages, challenge them often with riddles or simple questions. Get them to a place where they enjoy solving puzzles. Help them learn how to find answers and where to go to learn more about something that fascinates them.

You are hurting your children’s problem-solving skills when you do their homework for them. Certainly you should help them understand principles and lessons, but they must prove they can solve or analyze problems on their own. What good is it if they get an A on “your” homework? They learn nothing, and it sends them all the wrong signals.


Thanks for reading my blog “Helping Fathers to be Dads” and remember your dads on Father’s Day, June 21st!