Local paper, The Gympie Times, asked me to contribute to one of their articles today about the up and coming Father of the Year nominations. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify – my hearts in the right place but my attention is all over the shot – so while I’m fully preparing myself to once again be overlooked by the selectors I have pieced together this list of what I see as the most important things a great father brings to the table for his kids. Once I got started I did notice a sort of theme emerging, but let me know if you think I’ve left anything out.
- LOVE. Show your kids how much you love their mum. She’s not some sort of low ranking staff member with dubious benefits. Let them catch you hugging her and kissing her and annoying her by nibbling on her neck when she’s pouring a tea.
- LOVE. And if you’ve separated you’re not off the hook. You can at least show respect for the mother of your children. You’re in this together, whether or not you’re synchronising orgasms anymore. Love your kids enough you can get along well enough they don’t have to worry. Note: sometimes respect translates as simply keeping your mouth shut.
- LOVE. Be stupid. Or rather, stop trying not to be stupid. Unlike your wife, your kids love it when you act like an idiot. Show them life is better with a laugh.
- LOVE. Give them the opportunities to experience different things. With your help they might find a life long love of football, debating, chess, BMX, pottery or baking. Hopefully baking. There’ll be cake.
- LOVE. Be there when your kids stuff up. We were young once. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. Truth be told, we’ve done worse. Dads are the sunblock of the family, taking the heat off their kids by throwing themselves in front of Mum when she’s about ready to go supernova. It’s why our hair turns to the colour of ash: that’s if it doesn’t burn off our heads entirely.
- LOVE. Let them be themselves and choose who they love for themselves. It’s their choice and your job is to take your feelings out of their equation so they can focus on finding someone who’s maybe not perfect, but perfect for them. Remember, against all odds it worked out well for your wife.
- LOVE. Introduce them to the outdoors. And I don’t just mean kicking them out of the house so you can command the telly. Take them to the beach, kick a ball, bush walk, camp or even just encourage them to grow a tomato in the garden. Anything so they feel a connection with this great big planet. Nothing known to man soothes a soul like nature. Except actually doing what comes naturally, but they’ll figure that one out by themselves when they’re ready.
- LOVE. Fart loudly around them. Their mother probably won’t. A recent study showed you can avoid cancer by sniffing a fart. Complete bollocks, of course, but it’s as good an excuse as any if they accidentally use it as an icebreaker at functions.
- LOVE. Discuss current events. It’s their world too. Ask questions to get them thinking and respect their opinions. They’ll learn to love discussing and taking part in the society they live in. Start to encourage independent thought, the analysing of facts, a finely honed bullshit meter and having a healthy dose of skepticism. Otherwise you run the risk of them buying everything they see advertised on the shopping channel.
- LOVE. Listen when they have something to say. Everyone likes to feel their voice matters. I know most of what they say is dribble, but here’s a spot of reality for you – most of what you say is dribble too.
- LOVE. Show affection. Even though hugs are free they’re worth more than any electronic device. No kid is going to let you live in their spare room when you’re old and smelly because you bought them a mobile when they were in high school. Despite what they say.
- LOVE. If at all possible, and I know it isn’t always, teach by talking instead of bellowing. It’s easy to yell, but rather than encouraging them to do what you want it more often just teaches them to yell. In any case, it’s scarier to whisper.
- LOVE. Never ever let your kids catch you having sex. Never. Showing your kids how much you love their mum doesn’t mean accidentally actually showing them how much you love their mum. A kiss will suffice. A hug even. And use precautions – like if your bedroom door doesn’t have a lock, buy a door stop.
Know someone who fits these sorts of criteria and more? Are they sitting next to you maybe? Are they not exactly pissing you off right at this minute? Nominate them: Father of the Year nominations.
“Raising a family on little more than laughs”
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