There are some things we do that we don’t want our kids to witness. But there are other things your kids should catch you doing. Several years ago, one of my daughters (age 4) was coloring when her crayon broke. She let out a curse, which prompted a correction from my wife, who then asked, “Where did you learn that word?” My daughter replied, “Daddy said it!”
That is the first of many lessons in the ways my kids take after me. Like many dads, I wish for my kids to pick up on my best qualities. But in reality, they do what my 4-year-old daughter did: imitate what they see—the good and the bad. So here are 5 things your kids should catch you doing.
1. Loving Your WifeOne of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is to love their mother.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is to love their mother. I find that there are dozens of ways each day I try to show love for my wife. It’s good for your kids to see and notice this. When they’re younger, your love will help ease their insecurities. When they are older, it will provide them with an example of the sort of relationship they should seek out for themselves.
2. Working Hard
Whether you’re watching The Berenstain Bears or The Simpsons, it often seems that dads are turned into a punchline. As many of us work away from home, our kids often just see us “after hours,” and not in the midst of our work. This means their understanding of who we are and what we do can be shaped more by the shows they watch than by the men we are. We can remedy this by taking on a project at home or bringing our kids to work with us. In doing so, we will teach them what being a dad (and working hard) is really like.
3. Doing Chores
Let’s face it—we all have chores we hate. It might be doing the dishes, vacuuming, or scrubbing the toilets. We can all be tempted after long days at work to treat chores like they are someone else’s responsibility. It is crucial that your kids see you just as willing to wash dishes, fold laundry, and clean toilets as you are to do the so-called more “manly” chores around the house. This helps our kids learn that they need to do their part around the house no matter what the job is.
It can be tempting when we’ve wronged someone to minimize or rationalize our actions. Our kids need to see us taking responsibility for our shortcomings and asking them (or our wives) for forgiveness when we’ve done wrong. That’s how we teach them to be responsible and ask for forgiveness for their own failures.
5. Checking in on Them
Along with locking the doors and brushing my teeth, a key element of my nighttime routine involves checking in on my kids. Most nights this means quietly going into their rooms and giving them a blessing. I normally do this late enough that my kids are asleep, but from time to time, a kid is still up. While I treasure those moments and the brief conversations we have late at night, I believe my kids sleep a little more soundly knowing their dad has been checking in on them.
Sound off: What are some other things your kids should catch you doing?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are three chores you can do well?”