Why Fathers Count

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Advice for Parents

When I finally realized what had been going on in our family, I saw that many, if not most, fathers were in the same state of affairs. It was the fault of neither dads nor moms, but it was -- and is -- something that only dads and moms working together can remedy:

Put your marriage first. Willie and I started spending more time with one another than we did with the children. "One big happy family" took a backseat to just the two of us doing things together. I now call this "benign neglect."

Become a husband-and-wife parenting team. Willie began saying, "Wait until your father gets home." That told our children that we made most decisions together, whether it was a matter of a child wanting to go to the movies or needing to be punished.

Agree to disagree. When a decision had to be made on the spot, the parent on the spot made the decision. If we disagreed, we discussed it privately, but the decision stood. This brought me off the sidelines onto the playing field. My relationship with the kids became more active and relaxed.

Limit after-school activities. We trimmed activities to no more than one per week and began requiring the kids to find creative ways of occupying their own time, rather than doing a lot of things for them.

 

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