“Dad, do you like being a Dad?”

Are you kidding me, kid? I love being your Dad.

It’s such a hard job.

Hard? it’s not hard. It’s the best job in the world. And you know why?

No.

Because I get to take care and be  around the person I care most about . You.

Watching you grow. Playing with you. Having to answer all your hard questions.

But how do you know to be a good parent? how do you learn that?

Being a parent is being yourself. Parents are as good at being parents, as they are good at leading their own lives. We teach what we ARE.

Dad and Kid

Hmm. So you don’t need to know anything? just be yourself?

No, I didn’t say that. You need to know a lot about how to  be a good parent. I said that being a good parent is a part of being a good person.

Let me explain what I mean. As a rational person, I know that my role as your Dad is to help you become a person with high self esteem, with an ability to understand and cope with reality, and lead a happy, fulfilling life.

So the first thing I have to understand is what makes a human being acquire self esteem, what is happiness and you get a sense of fulfillment.

So let’s start with self esteem. What do you think it is?

Believing in yourself, knowing that you are good.

Exactly. So the way I can help you is to show you that you ARE good as you ARE, that you ARE always important and able. You can always learn and grow your skills and knowledge, but I love, respect and accept you as you are right NOW.

Some parents have a set of expectations for their kids and they let their kids feel that they are good ONLY if they meet those expectations, only if they perform. That is bad for self esteem because the child feels that he is not good enough as he is now. Those parents say things like: “Why did you break that toy? you’re a bad boy!” or “You’re such a good kid, you cleaned you’re room”. Think about what it means. It means you are bad if you break something or that you’re good if you cleaned the room. A kid that hears those messages ends up thinking – “I am a bad person” or “I am good because Dad told me so”.

I think you are good regardless of your actions. Your actions might be good or bad, but I love you regardless. I believe that if you ACCEPT your child as he is than your child will develop SELF ACCEPTANCE – “I am a good person. I am loved”.

I also think that it is wrong to ask a child for obedience  but rather for cooperation. To be able to motivate HIMSELF and not conform to what ever his parents demands at a given moment.

But what if I do bad things?

Then I criticize your behavior – not you. I tell you – “your room is a mess, it’ll be hard for you to find your things” and then I leave the judgement, evaluation and the thinking of what needs to be corrected, to you. If I told you – “your room is a mess, stop being lazy and clean it up right now!” then I call you lazy, I decide for you what you need to do about it and even force you to do it right now. That will not teach you to be responsible, trust your own judgement and that is also not very respectful – is it?

No. I hear parents yelling at kids all the time. You don’t yell often.

Why would I? Do I yell at my grownup friends that are coming to my house?

No. But they are your friends.

And who do you think is more important to me?

I am. <smile>.

You are. I try to be patient, and not lose my temper because it is very important for kids to have predictability. And if a Dad gets back angry from work and starts shouting on his kid for no reason, that kid will develop an anxiety because he could never know why he gets treated a specific way.

But even if I do lose my temper, what do I usually do after that?

You apologize.

Right, and that is because I respect you and I because I admit when I’m wrong.

So let’s talk about how, as a parent, I can help you become a HAPPY person. That is a little tougher because now I have to understand how someone becomes happy and how to instill that in my kid’s mind.What do you think makes people happy?

I don’t know. Making enough money to get all the things you want?

No. That is not how people become happy in the long term. So here it is, and I want you to think about this later:

Happiness is an emotional RESULT of pursuing and achieving your rational values and goals. It is a psychological EFFECT of knowing that you are doing the right things for yourself and your life.

So how do you know  what you need to do to become happy?

As you grow older you will define a hierarchy of values and goals you’ll want to achieve or sustain like family, friends, work and hobbies. Everyone has to figure it our for themselves.

The primary value, for all of us, is life. To get food and shelter, clothes and other basic needs.

Then you’ll develop passion towards specific things in life and should try to spend most of your time around those things. Like inventing, drawing, racing cars, making music, building bridges – whatever fascinates you about this life. That will result in a sense of achievement and… happiness.

So whatever I choose to do will make me happy?

Not necessarily. Your goals need to be RATIONAL and not whimsical. You won’t achieve happiness by doing “whatever you feel like” – because whims and emotions cannot guide you and you won’t know why you are doing what you’re doing. That is why people drown in drugs or either get lost by random, contradicting actions just because “it feels good” at a specific moment.

And now that we’ve talked about what happiness is, how do you think a parent should teach his son to be happy?

dad-young-teen-son-talking-on-bed

Talk to him every night before he goes to sleep?

That too, but that’s not the main way kids learn. Kids learn from watching.

So that means that I need to practice what I preach. To exemplify what I think you should do to become happy.

So a happy father will have a happy son?

Not necessarily. We are two different human beings and it will be your own responsibility to make yourself happy. All I can do it to try and make myself happy and hope that you’ll find a way to do it as well.

Are you happy Dad?

Yes, I am.

So I’m happy too.

So I am happy three. Now go to sleep dear boy.



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