I was skimming the website whattoexpect.com a few days ago for some parenting advice, and I came across an interesting article on different parenting styles. The blog regurgitated some chatter from The American Academy of Pediatrics, talking about how dads can be a positive influence on their children’s development. Citing research that said "when kids bond with their dads they feel more secure and curious, and less likely to lose it when they get frustrated."
I can't agree more and I've certainly noticed this with my kids. Having a more laid back attitude has translated into more laughter and fewer psycho kid meltdowns. That's what dads are here for- we're here to break mom's rules, build pillow forts, have shopping cart races, and ignore the recommend age limits on Nerf guns. Babies love those, right?
Every Friday I try to sneak out of the radio station a little early to pick up my son Reid from school. It's my little slice of father son time that I really enjoy since my wife gets this duty the rest of the week. Reid loves it too because it's the one time of the week he can talk ol' dad into cheating on moms healthy life style. Instead of carrot sticks and hummus for lunch, we hit Micky D's for milkshakes and Happy Meals! Much to my wife's chagrin we arrive home with smiles on our faces and trans fats in our systems. Everything in moderation I try to explain, ignoring her soapbox lectures of a balanced diets and caloric intakes. Mom knows best - but dad knows how to have fun!
Looking back on my own youth mom was always the nurturing and caring one. Quick to help with homework, making sure you had your nightly bath, and she always had Kleenex and Band-Aids in her purse for boogers and bruises. Dad however, encouraged rough-housing, problem solving, and farmer blows. An oddly delicate parental balance every child should embrace.
And then there are the stories...dads tell the best goofy stories! Eye rolls from my wife are a daily occurrence as I summon up the most ridiculous anecdotes just to mess with my kids. Dads have an incredible ability to look you straight in the eye and fill your head with total BS. I think we all have little stories of what our dads did to us, or told us when we were growing up. I know that these tall tales helped shape my sense of humor as an adult - allowing me to learn not to take life, and myself so seriously.
A friend of mine has a great story from when he was little - all the neighborhood kids would go running outside in the summer when they heard the ice-cream man rounding the corner with that familiar sugar induced music belting from the speakers. He never understood why all the kids would get so excited when they heard that music, what was the big deal? His dad had pulled him aside one afternoon and told him that when you hear the ice-cream music it meant that the truck was OUT of ice-cream. To this day he still gets a chuckle every time he hears that goofy music, that dang tuck is ALWAYS out of ice-cream!
I'll also never forget the years that I started losing teeth. I was always so worried that I would swallow a tooth as it was becoming loose. I didn't fear that I would miss out on a couple easy bucks from the Tooth Fairy, I was instead freaked out that I would grow teeth inside me! My dad had told me that if I were to swallow my loose teeth in the middle of the night, I would grow an entire mouth inside my stomach, and that I would be able to chew my food twice! You can imagine the wide eyed look I must have given him, totally freaked out...I can't WAIT to use the same story on my son, fully expecting the protective glares from the misses.
Parenting is a trip. Here's a salute to my fellow parents out there with their own unique parenting styles, all of us wondering if we're doing it right. Here's to the nurturers and the knuckle heads - each bringing a very important aspect to your child's life. Have fun, make mistakes, make your kids eat their veggies - and make sure they always chew them with both of their mouths.