Last week we dealt with the importance of stepping up to the plate and being a good dad—showing up, listening, paying attention—those things that are sometimes challenges for us.
Your role as a dad is vital in today’s turbulent world. Effective parenting—being a block for the young chip—can help resolve many of the problems we face. Good fathers help make good kids. You’re probably already doing a pretty good job. Look for areas where you can improve. We all have them.
Strengthen Your Partnership
Parents who become immersed in raising a child also can drift apart and become strangers. They lose the spark, the harmony, the adventure and the reward of a relationship. When their child grows up and moves on, they find themselves married to someone they don’t know. They may discover that the person they thought they knew changed over the years. They are still together but lonelier than they’ve ever been. That’s a lonelier feeling than being alone.
Clear Your Calendar … and Clutter
In order to prevent estrangement, rev your engines. Cherish your relationship. Keep in touch with each other’s feelings. Maintain a sense of your “coupleness” within the larger role of parents. You can do this by spending some time with each other, away from the kids—having a regular night out, taking turns making an occasional special dinner or simply talking together in the evening. The paradox is that “simply talking together” isn’t simple. It requires clearing the clutter, focusing and—here comes that word again—listening.
You’re busy. You’ve got a lot to do and many things on your mind. Just remember, quality counts. It’s not the amount of time so much as how it’s spent that makes a difference. Small changes can produce important improvements. So when you’re listening, listen well. It’s usually more important than talking. Pay attention. Ask questions. Avoid judgment or defensiveness.
Share household chores. Try to make daily life easier for each other. Understand your partner’s concerns, fears, and, yes, frustrations. Be empathetic. Make your relationship matter.
View It From Your Child’s Perspective
It’s hard raising a child and the work of being an effective parent really doesn’t get enough attention. Parents who do it well don’t get enough credit. Be one of those who do it well. If you’re married, be grateful for that other person you love. If you’re separated or divorced, try to view your partner from your child’s perspective. It is important to maintain a calm, supportive environment. It’s not about you—it’s about raising a healthy, successful child.
Each of you has strengths and needs. You can be a better parent by combining your skills, balancing your abilities and strengthening areas that needs improving. You already have the desire and the will to raise successful, loving children. Recognizing the importance of your partnership is a key ingredient in this process.