Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Father's Day :: Lessons learned from Fatherhood

Last year Jim Konrad, an editor of a Connecticut newspaper, and contributing writer for the Partnership at wrote about some of the lessons he has learned over the past 14 years of parenthood. His son was just completing his last year in middle school and they were gearing up as a family to embrace high school and all that stage in life brings. Here are a few of his lessons learned:

1. Don’t impose your standards for pop culture. My kids hate most of the music that I listen to today. But they love a bunch of the songs I listened to while growing up in the 1970s and then in the 1980s, and I really like a lot of their songs. When my mp3 player comes out in the car, the kids plug into their iPods. But we can usually find something we all like on the radio. The same is true for clothing. Years of arguing about how many inches of boxers can be shown in public yielded me nothing. The jeans or the shirts remained as saggy and baggy as my son wants them to be. But you know what? He doesn’t want them to be that saggy and baggy anymore.  Now, about that haircut ….

2. Do impose your standards for morals, ethics and faith, without worry of peer pressure. My son wants to see all kinds of movies, and I’d like to take him to many of them. But movies are rated R for a reason - they have adult content and he is not yet an adult. So, even if his friends are watching these movies, he isn’t (as far as I know). And, really, do either of us really want to be sitting next to each other during an extended romantic scene? Also, remind your children about your values and what they mean to you — and even explain how you came to them (many times it’s by making the same mistakes you don’t want them to make). That includes faith. If you want them to live it, you have to live it too.

3. Act now, or forever hold your peace. Too busy to chaperone your child on a field trip, but you’ll do it next year? Or you will think about coaching that sports team next season, but not now? You probably won’t. The older children get, the more independent they are. So take advantage of being actively involved with your children as much as you can for as long as you can. By high school, you will almost certainly be more a viewer of your child’s activities than a participant. So that’s why next week I’m going to play kickball with my 10-year-old daughter at school for an hour — because she asked me to.

4. Let your child experiment with (almost) everything. My children have played sports, taken lessons in dance, music and judo, participated in Scouts, rode horses and more. Some activities were long-term, others for only a few weeks. But they got a chance to see what they did and didn’t like to do. Sometimes those activities were expensive, but the memories and experience will last them a long time. And if they stay busy by finding something they like, they may be less prone to experiment with things you don’t want them to.

The Drug-Free Coalition of Tippecanoe County encourages all dad's to embrace fatherhood and continue to help us make Tippecanoe County a healthier and safer place for kids to live, learn and play! Thank you for doing your part and enjoy this Father's Day! 

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