Written by: Dave Pettigrew
For more blogs by Dave check out https://davesdadsandtots.wordpress.com
I want to briefly explain my goal in writing this blog. I graduated with a degree in psychology, taught grade 6/7/8 for six years and then changed careers, becoming a salesman for a few different industries. Teaching and sales are based on the same principles of awareness of student/customer needs, presentation of product features and benefits, listening to and dealing with objections. At all times the teacher/salesman keeps his goal in mind and looks for ways to interest, engage and persuade the student/customer.
I am a father of three and, currently, a grandfather of three. I have always loved interacting with kids and have observed dads interacting with their children for as long as I can remember. All of my observations and experience has percolated to the point where I decided to start a “Dads and Tots” monthly outing at our church and launch this blog.
My goal is to help dads develop great relationships with their children. I hope to accomplish this by sharing my thoughts on all the little day-to-day interactions you have with your child, and encouraging you to focus your priorities and attention on these relationships.
What is your goal….for your relationship with your son/daughter? I've piqued your interest enough to begin reading this blog but before you begin reading my thoughts, I would like you to first explore your own. So stop reading and just think for a few minutes about this question. “What do I want my relationship with my child to be now, in the next stages of our lives and then when he/she is an adult?” Even though this is a Dads & Tots blog, what you do now totally impacts the future relationship you will have with your child.
Pause (while you think…..)
Now I am going to suggest some things that might be included in your goals. Since I want these blog entries to be brief, I will only touch on broad age ranges and general concepts of a relationship and let you fill in your own specifics.
Infant: you want the baby to be comfortable in your arms, comfortable with your voice. Comfortable enough that they will fall asleep or stop crying while in your care, on your watch (your wife would really appreciate that!). You want the baby to recognize you and smile at you.
Toddler: you want your child to be excited, really excited, when you come home. You want your child to love, absolutely love, when you hold them in your arms. You want them to prefer being held by you over any other person….except mom. You want to be able to hold their attention as you instruct or explain and, when you discipline, you want them to listen and obey.
3-10 years: you want your child to enjoy spending time with you and enjoy hearing you explain things. You want them to feel totally safe and comfortable talking to you at any time about anything, believing that you will focus on what they say with undivided attention. You want them to begin to intuitively behave and have only minor situations where you need to discipline.
Pre-teen: you want your child to communicate with you openly and respectfully about what they are experiencing. You want to feel that you are really close to fully trusting them, thinking that the only thing missing is mature judgement. You want to enjoy, and know that they enjoy, spending time together.
Teenager: you want your child to be responsible, trustworthy and content. You want to be able to have heart-to-heart conversations about what they are experiencing.
Young adult: you want them to enter adulthood with confidence and courage and you want to have an equal adult relationship with them.
There are many, many blanks here that you can fill in. I want you to think outside the small age-related box you are currently in and think about your goals at each stage, right up to your child’s adult stage. In teaching, sales, parenting (and now grand-parenting!), it was essential for me to always keep both the short-term and long-term goals in mind. You need to do the same.
I assume that as readers, you all have one thing in common - you are a dad. But the similarities end there. Some of you are home regularly, some have long commutes, some are travelling all week, some are in the military and are gone on exercise for weeks at a time, some of you work on rotation in the oil patch. Those are choices you made and continue to make for your family and your career. But you are a dad. Your child knows nothing about oil patches and commutes. You are their dad. Your child knows nothing about golf buddies. You are their dad. Your child knows nothing about bill paying and working overtime and deadlines. You are their dad…...and that is what they know. I’m sure that you deal with goals and timelines in your career and that you are familiar with priority setting. You mentally schedule commitments to your church, neighbour, buddies etc and figure out how to fit it all into your week. This is not new stuff for you. But here’s the key “take-away” from this blog…...second only to your relationship with your wife, these dad-and-tot relationships are THE MOST IMPORTANT human relationships you should have. Bar none. Not your parent, your sibling, your buddy or your boss…...your child. Since you are a rational, thinking adult, you understand what I am saying. For your child, who is not yet a rational, thinking adult, you COULD be one of the few most important relationships they will ever have…….or NOT! And you are the one who determines the outcome. This relationship needs to be a top priority for you. No excuses. That is why I am writing this blog.
And now a special note to single dads: I am really, really sorry about your situation. You have unique challenges and responsibilities and the outcome is very uncertain for reasons that are almost completely out of your personal control. This is not a marriage or reconciliation blog so I will not comment on your past or current relationship with your child’s mother other than to say that you should go above and beyond in your encouragement of her efforts to raise your child; go above and beyond in your financial support and go above and beyond in visiting with, engaging with and building a conversational relationship with your child. Do all of this and you will have a fighting chance of a solid relationship with your child.
So…..homework…...look at your schedule for this coming week and make a note of what you have to do and what you are choosing to do. Just because you said you would go with a friend to a hockey game does not mean you have to - that is a choice. You have to work, you have to do some banking, you have to take the car in to the garage. For the things you choose to do - honestly consider if you are giving enough time to your child and choose to spend more time with him/her.
For the things you have to do - look for ways to include your child. Of the three things I just mentioned, why not take them along to the garage and talk about getting tires changed? Then go for a coffee together. Take them to the bank and then over to a new park. Sure, this will take more time but don't think of it that way. Think of it as a solid investment in this priority relationship.
For more blogs by Dave check out https://davesdadsandtots.wordpress.com