We have just finished taking care of our 8-year-old granddaughter for a week while my son and his wife were away at a conference.
I thought this would be easy. After all, my granddaughter is a great kid, and babysitting her for an evening was always fun. I found parenting her for a week was very different. It was hard work.
What was hard was not the day-to-day activities of parenting — getting her ready for school, making sure her chores were done, getting her to eat her vegetables and so on — it was being “other focused” all the time.
Reflecting on becoming a father some 35 years ago, I remembered that learning to put the needs of my child ahead of my own selfish interests was one of the most important, but one of the most difficult, aspects of being a father.
▪ It is easy to say, “I would do anything for my kids.” However, take a moment to reflect: What specific things would be difficult to put in “second place”? Your work? Your hobbies? Penn State football?
▪ It is important to remember that putting your child first is something that requires periodic checks. It is easy to let things slide to where one’s selfish needs are dominating.
▪ Children are very perceptive. They know the difference between talk and action. Consider: How can I show my children that I prioritize them above all else?
▪ Think about penciling in on your calendar your kids’ activities and even brief blocks of family time to avoid work and personal conflicts.
The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides monthly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. To comment on this article, or for more information or to join local conversations, contact David Eggebeen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Marc McCann at email@example.com.