It's close to 10 o'clock at night. Lugging my gym bag with about twenty-five pounds of fitness gear in it, my Theragun case, and my ring light, I carefully open the front door, walk into my home, and gently place everything in the dimly lit hallway on the main level. I proceed to make my way upstairs towards the bedrooms, careful with each step to avoid making too much noise. I walk into my room to give my a kiss and recount the events of the day, highlighting each client-session and the crazy amazing workout I led in my Tactical Fit Online class. I, then, walk across the hallway, and stand still at the junction between the rooms of the most precious blessings in my life: my two girls. I missed their bedtime; therefore, missed giving them a kiss goodnight, telling them I love them. Life is unpredictable, so I always want to make sure that I can get one last look of my children before my head hits the pillow.
Despite the few occasion my kids make me feel aggravated or drive me bonkers, I always feel blessed and cannot imagine a world without them. They make me stick to a journey to be a better human, each and every day. I embarked on my journey towards strengthening my resilience when my wife, Suzanne, was pregnant with our oldest. I wanted to be the best father I could be for our little one, the loving and supportive father, she deserved. We strive to provide the best for them and to teach them the best strategies to take on life's challenges. As parents, we want our children to be a better version of us. However, there are times when we're tough on ourselves because we refused to give them something they wanted and they cried. Or, feel remorse because we gave into our emotions and had a little outburst of anger because things didn't go according a "perfect plan," or they asked the same question twenty times, while you were frantically trying to find their socks and get out the door to drop them off at school on time.
Whether you're a dad-to-be, a new dad, or seasoned, wise father, I want to share with you three of the lessons I've experience as a dad to two girls. If you don't have daughters, I do believe these can be applied if you have sons, too.
Be forgiving to yourself. You are both learning.
While the fact remains that it's on you to be your child's first teacher and mentor, there's no instruction manual, webinar, or cheat sheet to being a father. You can definitely get tips and tricks from other dads, but your child is unique, as we all are. There's no one size fits all approach. So, you will mess up. You will forget to pack fresh diapers in the diaper bag or, later on in life, you forget to pack the dance shoes. You will freak out when the diaper cannot handle the load of a "rear-end explosion." Or, you may have broken a promise you made to spend some time to play. Remember, this is all new to you and there'll always be something new in every stage of life. As with anything, there are no mistakes, just lessons. So ask yourself what can you learn from this mistake to be ready to respond to a diaper explosion, to hold on to the commitment you made for quality time, or to not forget the shoes or diapers.
Like I said, you are both learning. That means it's ok to experience emotions and to show your children that it's ok to have them. It's ok to feel sad, angry, or even joy in front of them. Dads, it's okay to cry in front of them. It's okay to be vulnerable.
"You have emotions but you're not your emotions."
You will lose your cool in front of your kids, it happens because you're human, but try to catch yourself before it escalates to high, pause for a moment, and calmly explain the REAL reason your reaction was fuelled by the emotion. For example, if you show anger for something they have done, or haven't done, most of the time that emotion was fuelled by something totally not related. All it needed was a nudge to tip over and explode. That's when you must be wholehearted with yourself and that is THE lesson you're teaching them. I've found that by being open and honest with my children, opening my heart to them, I created whole new line of communication. It has also allowed them to understand and communicate their emotions in many situations.
Be the person you want them to be with.
Being a dad to girls is something special. I once heard someone say that a father is their daughter's first true love. It's unconditional love. And that pure form of love must be reciprocated with integrity, respect, and support.
Would you want your daughter to date or marry someone who didn't demonstrate the highest standards of integrity, respect, and support? I'm guessing the answer is a straight up "HECK NO!". Show your daughter what it's like to be with someone who respects her, supports her, and who would be her lighthouse in the dark times long after your light, one day, burns out.
Take your daughter out on a date once in a while. It could be as simple as a coffee & hot chocolate date at Starbucks, or an afternoon movie and a dinner. Create the time for them and be present in the moment. Be the example. Set the standard. My girls already know the standards of chivalry. They like to remind me, sometimes. Happy Father's Day to all the amazing Dads out there! And, if you're about to be a Dad for the first time, you got this. You'll be an amazing mentor. The only way you can mess up is not working on being a better father than you were the day before. On this Father's Day, and every day, celebrate being a father by being a father. Savour every moment, silly laugh, and beautiful smile with your daughters and/or sons.