Example Matters More Than Instruction And 2 Other Things Parenthood Has Taught Me
"I still consider myself a perpetual student of the art of parenting."
The following was syndicated from Awesome Black Dads for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at TheForum@Fatherly.com.
Being a dad, for me, is one of the greatest honors in life. I do not take it for granted nor do I take it lightly. To make an awesome matter even better, my children are amazing human beings. I believe that each of them was born with a unique purpose in life and that I happen to be the guy who God chose to help them discover and navigate their respective paths.
Many would agree that it is a father’s duty to partner with mom to raise up their children and prepare them for leading healthy and productive lives. However, if we as parents are not careful, we can completely miss gigantic growth opportunities by failing to grab hold of the lessons our little ones present. This perspective keeps me eager to take pause and listen out for the nuggets of wisdom tucked inside even the simplest interactions I have with my daughters and sons.
Here are 3 things my children have taught me about fatherhood over the years:
My Example Matters More Than My Instruction
We’ve heard the saying “actions speak louder than words.” My children confirm for me just how true that statement is when I see them following the examples I set for them. This ranges from taking time to thank God for their food before they eat to offering a stranger a warm smile and greeting upon making eye contact. This lesson has not caused me to lighten up on offering clear instruction where necessary. Rather, it has made me more aware of the importance of actually modeling what it looks like when daddy does it.
Maintaining A Healthy Work-Life Balance Is Worth The Fight
I am very passionate about the work I do in my professional career. It only took me one good time of returning home from a long work-related trip and receiving that really tight “daddy I missed you” kind of hug to get the message. Yes, my entire family benefits from my work ethic but they also benefit from me knowing how and when to put the laptop down and be present. No matter how busy it gets at work, I know that I must carve out time for rolling around on the floor, having heartfelt conversations over a healthy snack, reading bedtime stories, and making breakfast before school or on a Saturday morning. The kids need it, my wife needs it, and so do I.
Love And Respect Go A Long Way
From my oldest son who is almost 21 to my youngest daughter who is a newborn, each of my 5 children have confirmed in their own way that they ultimately need 2 things from me: love and respect. I was recently holding the baby in my arms as she took a long afternoon nap. At some point she started to wake up and fuss a bit. I marveled at how confident she was in her cry. She knew that I would hear her and that I would respond. She knew that love would lead me to look deeper than her cry, not take her behavior personally, and find out what discomfort she was experiencing. She also knew that I would take action on her behalf based upon what I discovered. I did and she was just fine. This encounter reminded me that my love and respect for my children will help them along the way no matter how old or young they are.
While I have earned nearly 2 decades of fatherhood experience, I still consider myself a perpetual student of the art of parenting. I am always open to hearing what other dads might add to this short list.
Learn more about Jason Ferg at jasonferg.com.
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