Father's Day Advice from the Safe Kids Dads
The resident dads at Safe Kids were asked about what piece of advice or tip they would want other dads to know about. We are certainly no experts (is there really such a thing?), so take what you like and ignore the rest.
I have received lots of advice since becoming a father. One that stuck with me was to enjoy those quiet (or not so quiet) moments in the middle of the night as you rocked your baby back to sleep. Even when exhausted and at your wits-end, you should try to enjoy it because once it’s gone, its gone forever. Another common reminder I was told is that everything is a phase, so those difficult times will pass. But every phase has its challenges and joys. Why rush it? So, my advice to all parents, is the advice I try to give myself almost every day because I still struggle with it – be in the moment without distraction and enjoy all the joy and challenges that each age and stage of childhood offers, cause once it’s gone, its gone forever.
- Dan Orzechowski
Make sure your children know they are loved. I learned this lesson from my wife, Dixie, who is smart, empathetic, and funny in all the right ways. So how did she get that way? The thing is, she never really had a ton structure as a child, or parents who scrutinized every detail to make sure her life turned out OK. But she did have one very important thing: “I always knew I was loved,” she once told me. Even at age 5 when her mom forgot to pick her up at the airport or called her a “little brat” for putting all the Hersey Easter egg tinfoil wrappers in the radiator, Dixie still knew that she was loved. It made her feel good and I don’t know anyone who is more compassionate, happy and fun, and who shares her gifts more freely with the world. So when I start to worry about all the little decisions I make and whether they are right or wrong, I try to stop myself and just focus on the most important thing. Making sure my kids know that no matter what happens, they are loved.
- Gary Karton
As I reflect on the years when my children were young (this coming now from a grandparent), I often think about how I definitely learned more from my kids than they did from me. Two things stand out to me that I’ve experienced with my kids. One, I always made it a point with them to never tell them “no” to something they asked for without explaining why the answer was no. They may not have always liked when the answer was no, but they understood the reasons behind it and they learned from it. The other thing that I learned over time was that the level of joy and pride you experience as they get older continues to increase. And so does the level of pain and disappointment when something goes wrong. But I wouldn’t trade all those experiences – both good and bad, for anything. My kids have played a huge role in who I am today, and I cherish the moments I have with them now as adults as much as ever.
- Wes Bender
A piece of advice that I used as a central pillar of being a dad is to do the extra little things in your kids’ lives; those tend to be the things you remember the longest. So, I take the time to let my daughter put a hair clip or scrunchy or "pretend" makeup on me. Or, have a small splashing fight in the tub. Or, sit by her bedside an extra couple minutes when she is falling asleep so she feels safe. I call these my “heart fillers”; whenever I feel stressed or upset or sad, my mind turns to these moments in time when life was the absolute highest and my heart is filled with happiness.
Now, you should still do grand gestures (for your kids and your wonderful, amazing, incredible partners), but when you look back on the time together, these heart fillers create a threaded line of time that can be treasured for life.