Tomorrow, we will celebrate Father’s Day in the United States. My wife thought it would be good to write about what it takes to be a good father. I do not feel that I can write about that regarding myself–it is, at best, a work-in-progress. I will just simply give thanks to my own father, who is now 82 years old, for all that he has done for me over his long life, and for some of the lessons that he taught me. None of that is to take away any love or admiration for my mother, who died 7 years ago. So, as I comb through my memories, I can see vividly the many things my father did for me, but I will try to synthesise them into a few lessons, on to which I try to hold in my efforts to be a good father.
He showed me that fathers and mothers should be equal partners in raising a child. Whenever my mother was not around, it rarely mattered because my father would try to ensure that life went on as normal. As a father, he was no stranger to parenting. My mother often worked shifts or at night as a nurse (especially when working as a midwife), so it was important that in such circumstances, she had no concerns about how life would go on at home. Each parent has different skills, and they may not complement each other perfectly. But parenting is easier if it is shared, the good and the bad parts.
I thank him for showing me the value of consistency in parenting. It may not be convenient or popular to hold onto a certain set of principles or values, but life is generally easier if these are not shifted to suit circumstances.
I thank him for always keeping his word. He never promised more than he could deliver.
He explained to me that discipline is learning what is the right thing to do; it is not imposed. A parent should not shy away from repeating the ‘messages’ (which may come in different forms that have a positive tone) to a child that are part of the learning. The value of their reinforcement comes as the parent becomes more assured that they are being understood and applied.
Try to really pay attention to what a child is saying or doing and find ways and opportunities to give praise.
Hugs and smiles are good. Be ready to give and receive them.
He explained that being a parent is a lifetime occupation. I remember that vividly when he refers to me as “my boy” or “my son”, whenever we speak.
Thank you, Daddy.