Between his goofy socks with sandals with sweats look, the 20 questions he asked when I left the house and the way he chatted up all the other people in my life, I used to think my Dad had to be the most annoying guy on the planet. Now, I realize he was just the most loving.
Research has shown that children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors including drug use, truancy and criminal activity. Society could use a little more of that.
1. Appear with the family in public
Let's face it, you always wear the wrong thing, say the wrong thing and look silly doing anything kids like to do. It may seem your child wants to appear as though she has no parents — just spontaneously generated out of nothing — but, in the end, she likes how often you're around. In order to see your good example, your kids have to see you.
2. Talk to your kids
Talk to your little kids while they still want to tell you every detail. The fact that you're listening makes her feel 10 feet tall. Talk to your big kids, even though they don't want to. Ask about their day. Or, ask your child where he's going, what he's doing and when he'll be home. Infuriating! You'll never know what problems your child is facing if you don't ask. You'll never be able to influence his decisions if you don't talk about them.
3. Talk to your kids' friends
If your child is embarrassed when you accompany her somewhere and talk to her while there, just wait until you say, "Howdy," to the cute boy in her class. Talking to your child's peers is a smart strategy, though. You may learn as much about your child talking to them, as you do talking to your child. It also arms you with a knowledge of the situation when there's a potential problem. You don't have to be cool, just friendly.
4. Talk to your kids' friends' parents
(You may be sensing a theme here.) Didn't know Billy's father was a professional UFO hunter or that Bella's mother has a special herb garden in the basement — shame on you! Before you let your child spend significant amounts of time with another family, it's good to know a little about them. If you feel those parents might not be the best influence, arrange play dates at your house.
Few things are as annoying as your dad finding out what you're up to all day, how you behave when not under his watchful eye and what grade you're getting in math. This may lead a dad to take measures to ensure a child gets more study time, improves his social skills, gets a better education and gets into college, giving him a head start in life. Ugh!
6. Give your kids chores
The dishes aren't going to do themselves. Kids need to learn that if they make a mess, even for a good reason, they need to be the ones to clean it up. You may decide to pay your children for special jobs, but they need to do most jobs, regularly, because they are a member of the family and should contribute to the family. My daughter once asked how much I would pay her to clean-up. I told her I'd give her a free lunch and dinner in exchange for her work.
7. Set house rules
Rules about what kids can watch on TV, how long they can play video games, nixing texting during dinner and what time everyone needs to be home and in bed are especially annoying. What kids don't know is your annoying rules will keep their lives structured. Structure keeps kids happier and more trouble-free.
8. Cheer your children on
Your child may not acknowledge you when you yell, "Way to go, Little Man," from the stands, but he appreciates knowing you're in his corner. Just be sure to keep the comments positive, no matter what the activity. Kids like their parents to be super fans, not stadium chair coaches.
9. Make sure they look good
Tell your boys to pull their pants up and your girls to pull their skirts down. Ensure they don't look like they live on the streets. Someday your child will want to get a job or get into college so don't let her make any irreversible choices to her appearance like a plethora of piercings or a vampire tattoo on her neck.
10. Tell dumb jokes
They may be groaning on the outside, but they're laughing on the inside. Joking with your children helps them to understand though life is full of serious things, it's OK to lighten up once in a while.
11. Don't just give your kids money, make them earn it
Children think the idea of spontaneously appearing in the universe should apply to their money as well. Before they face a rude wake-up when they hit adulthood, teach your children the principles behind earning, spending and saving. Your kids can earn money doing odd jobs around the house, babysitting or doing yard work for neighbors. They may also be able to craft and sell an item. If your child wants the latest gadget, tell him to get creative and get earning.
12. Insist your children treat their mother with respect
Don't let the kids walk all over Mom. Help them acknowledge the many things she does for them. Teach your children to tell her, "Please," and, "Thank-you." Help them make her pictures for the fridge and bouquets from the yard to show her they care. Show with your actions their mom is a treasure. When you treat her like a queen, it may annoy your children to no end, but they'll treat her that way, too.