“Sometimes, I hear dads say, ‘I gotta babysit the kids tonight.’
I always wonder why they call it babysitting? Does it feel like a nanny job to them?
I never babysit my kids. We hang out and have great times.
The older these kids get, the more I realize my time with them is short. They are not ‘mine.’ I do not get to keep them.
But they are absolutely my responsibility. It is on me to be the father they need. It’s on me to teach them – to prepare them to live in a world of suffering. A huge responsibility.
A child’s most formative years peak around 7 years old. This means what my oldest two have already learned from me will likely be ingrained in them for the rest of their lives. The. Rest. Of. Their. Lives.
When I learned this a couple of years ago, I implemented a few simple dad principles I try to live by:
1. ‘TIRED’ IS NOT AN EXCUSE: If my kids ask me to do something (jump on the tramp, hot tub, soccer, read books), I am not allowed to use ‘too tired’ as a reason to not do it.
2. ‘KIDS’ ARE NOT AN EXCUSE: Many people rob themselves and their kids of amazing experiences because they assume they can’t do things ‘because we have kids.’ Road trips, fitness, projects, staying up late, etc. Instead of using the kids as an excuse to not, I try to involve them! What a great learning opportunity for all of us.
I love running and recently we got a huge double stroller. I stuff all 4 of them in it and we sprint around town many times a week. We have great conversations and get lots of funny looks from passing cars. It’s always a highlight of my day. My kids are a REASON I run, not an excuse for me not to.
3. WHAT I SAY < WHAT I DO: Young kids place almost no value on words until they are backed by action. Their brains can then associate the result with the words and make sense of it.
What I’m learning through painful experience is my kids don’t care what I say. They only care what I DO, and they watch me closely. Yes, be careful with my words. But I want to be more careful with my actions.
If you followed me around for a day, you might be shaking your head because I fail at this often. This is not an easy lesson and I struggle with it daily. But I’m trying to learn.
4. KIDS ARE A BLESSING, NOT A BURDEN: Note to self: Act accordingly. And what could possibly be more important than raising you children?”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Benjamin Holmgren, and originally appeared here. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more from Benjamin here:
‘When you get home to your spouse, put a smile on. It doesn’t matter how crummy your day went.’: Man reminds us to show gratitude, ‘Your favorite people deserve the best version of you at the front door’
Read more stories about fatherhood here:
‘I’ll hold you tight, but I’ll hold your mother tighter. My love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother’s love.’: Dad pens appreciation letter to wife for birthing son, ‘I will never be able to repay you’
‘Here’s to the girl dads who watch princess movies, slow dance in the kitchen, and let tiny hands put polish on their big toes.’: Mom pens appreciation letter to girl dads, ‘You are building hearts with your construction hands’
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