Lynn Hummel: Time for some fatherly advice
As a father of three and grandfather of nine, there were many good things I didn’t do and many mistakes I made when I did do something. In the process, there were lessons I learned and lessons I should have learned by now. Without confessing any further, I admit I’m no example of good fatherhood or expert on the subject, but I had a wonderful father of my own ─ he’s been gone many years now, and I think about him every day ─ and I can’t resist giving my two cents worth.
So here, for young fathers, are my top 10 tips on being a father:
- Get Started Early. When I became a father, dads weren’t allowed in the delivery room, so I missed the first thrilling minutes of my children’s lives. Don’t miss that step. From that point on, you can do everything but nurse them and I hope you do. That includes changing diapers, feeding, burping and middle-of-the-night duties.
- Set A Good Example. Let them see you work. Let them see you play, let them hear you pray and let them hear you whistle and sing. Don’t let them hear you swear, don’t let them see you angry, don’t let them hear you whine and don’t let them catch you being a pessimist.
- Teach Them How To Love And Respect Their Mother. This is by example too. Let your kids see lots of hugs and kisses and hear many compliments. And mean it ─ you can’t fake it because sooner or later they’ll catch on.
- Teach Them About God. Read Bible stories to them. Go to church with them and teach them about the miracles of all creation, including the miracle that they are.
- Teach Them ─ Show Them ─ Right From Wrong. Love includes discipline. Give them rules and make sure they follow them. And while you’re doing that, you’ll have to stop at all the stop signs yourself and avoid moral shortcuts.
- Teach Them Tolerance. The world is full of all colors, nationalities, religions, beliefs and orientations. We’re all different, but different can be okay. There is strength in diversity, so don’t allow your kids to become bigots.
- Teach Them Respect. Respect your children and insist they respect their parents, friends, teachers, other adults, elders (especially their grandparents) and authority. Courtesy and good manners may be rare, but they’re never out of date.
- Teach Them To Be Strong ─ And Gentle. They’ll need you to show them how to stand on their own feet, make decisions, take responsibility and practice discipline. But help them understand that bullies aren’t strong, they’re cowards. The truly strong know how to be kind and gentle.
- Love, Love, Love. Never stop hugging and kissing them and telling them that you love them. Don’t worry, you won’t spoil them. Besides, spoiled children are not a national problem ─ unloved, unwanted, neglected and abused children are.
- Keep Your Family Together. The American family is pulling apart at the seams. Keep yours together. Your children need a mother and a dad living together. They also need the support of their uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents.
Have I left anything out? Of course I have: the love of books, not defending them when they’re wrong, work, sharing, eating habits, exercise, caring about others, attending their conferences and baseball games, rules about cell phones, video games, TV, etc. I’ll leave the rest to you.
There’s a lot I’m preaching that I didn’t practice. I wish I could go back and do it all over again. But I can’t. I know you’ll do your best and be a terrific father. Happy Father’s Day.