A Father should be prepared to do anything to help his child out of an unexpected situation.

A father can be called upon to help his child out at any time of day or night. This happened unexpectedly to me once with my daughter, who was 10 years old at the time, when I had to play in a mother’s netball match. The plan had been that my wife was playing in the match with all the other children’s mothers. Unfortunately that morning, my wife was unexpectedly unable to play. My daughter was distraught, and was going to be the only girl whose parent was not going to be playing against her. I was due to go to work that day, but saw that she was so upset, I suggested that I would take a days holiday and play in her mother’s place. I had never seen a child so relieved on the one hand and yet overjoyed on the other.

I explained to my daughter that I didn’t even know the rules of netball, but if she could explain them to me in five minutes, then I would have a go. And I did! I made a complete fool out of myself, but my daughter was so proud, it was totally worth it. In fact it was really good fun and to see the joy on my daughter’s face, was simply magical.

During the match, I had to mark my daughter, and she of course, beat me most of the time, in fact all the time. But it was wonderful to experience and be part of such a special occasion. And of course, I was the first father to play in a mother’s netball match in the schools history. So my legacy was sealed! My daughter was not the only person who was proud that day, I was almost as proud as her. It was one of those really special childhood moments, when I knew that I had done something that my daughter would remember for the rest of her life.

She still reminds me today, of what it meant to her. So, as a father, whatever your child needs in an unexpected situation, be prepared to do the necessary. It will be remembered for many years to come and will strengthen still further the special bond between you.

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The Stress of a Divorce can make you become a very poor Father. But it doesn’t have to be like that………

It’s strange when we think of the options in our behaviour when we go through stressful situations, like a divorce. We can end up doing things that are plainly wrong and yet we cannot see it, because we are so engrossed in the situation. Nearly always the people who get really damaged, are the children.

Recently I learnt of a situation concerning a couple who were going through quite an acrimonious divorce. Who was at fault is irrelevant, what is important is the behaviour of the parents during the whole process of the divorce proceedings. In particular, the father, which is why I want to talk about it on this Blog.

The wife realised she was first and foremost the mother to her children, and subjugated her position and stance to not involve the children in the situation as much as possible. In other words, she did all she could to protect her children from the acrimony of the divorce proceedings. But the husband undermined this by committing the cardinal sin of using his children as pawns and trying to turn them against their mother. In the short term this succeeded, but in the long term this will cause irreparable damage to his integrity and relationship with his children. But he could not see this.

At every opportunity he ‘bad mouthed’ the mother to the children, and tried to undermine and break up the relationship between them. The mother on the other hand, always remained dignified and did not do the same. This was very selfless and perceptive of the mother, because at all times, she acted in the best interests of the children, even to the point of financial loss to herself. She realised that one day when the children were older and understood the situation fully, they would make up their own minds.

It is at that point in the future, the consequences of the father’s behaviour will really become apparent to the children and to himself. And this is the key message…..

The husband behaved as a very poor father indeed in this instance and showed his true character and colours to his children. Their mother will always be their mother and by trying to undermine her, he has damaged severely his own relationship with his children. Because he became so wrapped up in the divorce proceedings, he could not see that, and therefore he forgot his principal role. Namely to protect his children, as much as possible, from the inevitable emotional trauma that they were going through. He was still their father, and they were not just pawns in the proverbial ‘game of chess’……………………………………………

 

 

You must be a positive Role Model to your Child, if you want to avoid problems in the future……

It is your duty to be the best possible father to your children and to complement their mother. Your role is very different to hers, but is equally as important, so teamwork is key. It is like a football match. If everyone on the team knows what they have to do and plays and supports each other, they have a much better chance of winning. The sum of your individual parts as a father and a mother is greater if you work together, than if you work alone. It takes two parents working closely in unison to bring up children which is why it is so important for you to be fully involved right from the start.

Your child will observe and copy everything you do, all the time. Boys particularly, will observe very closely what you, their father, is doing. Remember you are his idol, particularly when he is very young, so absolutely everything you do matters to him. Your child’s behaviour will reflect the way you are and how you behave on a day to day basis.

If you are always shouting, this will be considered normal behaviour, or if you can’t be bothered about things, your children will simply copy you. So you need to be a strong, positive and good role model for them. “Your children are what you make them”. You must never forget this, it is key to your role as their father. Here is a list, not an exhaustive one by any means, of a few tips to ensure you are a good role model for them.

Work hard at what you do (paid or unpaid).

Be nice to people, even if they irritate you.

Be polite and kind to everyone you meet.

Be tolerant of other people’s differences with you.

Always help others if you are able to.

Never be aggressive, nasty or react violently.

Be a good citizen and respect the laws of the country.

Be a good listener and give your time to people you meet.

If you haven’t got anything nice to say about someone, then don’t say it at all.

 

Be part of your child’s life even before she is born. Talk to her while she is still in your partners tummy………………

Hearing your voice as well as its mother’s is part of the bonding process. Your unborn child hears its mother’s voice every time she says anything while it is developing inside her, but it is also important that your child hears your voice as often as possible as well. Your baby also needs to feel your touch as you caress her through her mother’s tummy. The amazing journey of fatherhood begins now.

It takes two to make a baby and it definitely takes two to bring one up. The easy part is making it, the hardest and also the most rewarding part, is bringing it up. Getting to the end of the road, if there ever really is an end of the road, is an incredible achievement and a truly satisfying and wonderful experience.

So when it’s time for your baby to be born, you should do your utmost to be present at the birth if at all possible. The three most moving and profound moments of my life were the births of my own children and I am sure it will be the same for you. I can remember each one as if they occurred, as if it was just yesterday. I know very occasionally circumstances can be out of your control and therefore it isn’t possible, but with good planning, you can try to minimise the chance of you missing it.

If you can do this, you will feel you are an integral part of the arrival of your child into this world and that you aren’t a peripheral figure to everything that is going on. Try to hold your baby before the umbilical cord is cut. She will see your face before she sees her mothers. Of course it is not a competition to see who is loved the most, but it is important that the bonding between you and your child is cemented the moment she comes into this world.

It will be the natural progression of the bond which you started developing with her before she was born and it will be one of the foundations of the relationship you will develop with her throughout her entire life.

 

Exactly how important do you think it is to be a good Father to your children? Even more than just ‘vital’ if that is possible, as you will see!

You as a Father made several choices, many of them unconscious, before and when you finally decided, together with your partner, to have children. It was to become a complete change in your life and certainly will have turned out to be just that. Exactly how involved you are in your child’s life, will determine inextricably what kind of person he/she will become. Your children are what you make them into and this is a responsibility that is absolutely enormous.

The relationship between parents and their children, within the family unit, underpins the whole fabric of our society. So many ills in it can be directly linked to problems within the family unit. Very often this will be because of an absentee Father in the household. This can be for a variety of reasons, some of which can be out of the his control. If however the relationship is strong and stable, it will have a positive effect for many years into the future. A close and loving dynamic will benefit you, your child and society in general. If you are to get the most out of being a Father, you have to be prepared to take on every aspect of the job, however challenging it is, and be involved 100% in every area of your child’s life. If you do this and are totally committed to being the best dad possible to your children, it will be the most rewarding thing that you will ever have experienced.

“Great Dads make for Great Children and Great Children make for a very Happy life for everyone”. This has always been my motto, and anyone who is involved with children will know this is true.

Thank you for reading this Blog as it means you really care. I have written a book called ‘Help I’m a Father’ which talks all about this relationship and is full of really useful tips and advice. It is available through Amazon and all Royalties are being donated to sick and underprivileged children’s charities to help improve their lives.

A Great Idea for a Christmas Present for any Dad, my Book ‘Help I’m a Father’

A Father is a vital component in the family and such an important daily point of reference for his children. A truly involved Dad will have such a positive impact on his children’s well being and contributes so much to their lives, it can never be over played.

In my book ‘Help I’m a Father’ I have really focused on things that a Father can do to improve the quality of his relationship with his children and offered tips and advice which can certainly get him out of some tricky day to day situations. It can offer him options when he most needs inspiration. But don’t believe me, below are some of the 5 star customer reviews it has received on Amazon.

“Brilliant book! So many useful tips and bits of advice to keep you going through the tough times of being a parent. Suitable to all parents from those with young children all the way to those with adult children. Plus it has some really good ideas of things to do to keep your children amused on long journeys! Would recommend to anyone needing a bit of help with parenting, especially those couples that are first time pregnant and want a little heads up with what’s about to come!”

“Perceptive, clever and sharply written. Hearn tackles the most important and least-written-about area of a man’s life. This book is a must for fathers, fathers-to-be — and mothers who want to understand the particular challenges their partners face”

“This is a really useful, enjoyable, amusing and long overdue book which gives an excellent perspective, for any Dad or Dad-to-be, on what it takes to be a better parent.”

“Great read! Well written and gives fantastic advice on all the areas of family and fatherhood!”

Any feedback or comments you can give me are very welcome, so please don’t hesitate.

The book is available through Amazon in paperback or an e-book. It would make a very useful and practical Christmas present for any Father, and would certainly be appreciated hugely. The link is below

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Help-Im-Father-Moments-Great-ebook/dp/B01H63QO2G

 

How can you stay close to your Teenager as your relationship changes? It is a real challenge.

When your child becomes a teenager, the dynamics of your relationship changes dramatically, so you need to evolve and become a different kind of role model. He will be mixing with a wide variety of individuals independently of you and it is important that you remain consistent in how you behave towards him. ‘Work hard … play hard’, is a very important philosophy you need to get through to your teenager, and to do this, you must lead by example.

As he will be trying new things during these years and following your example (where it suits him of course) try to avoid doing anything to excess yourself. While he needs to understand that he can enjoy himself, this must be linked to working hard, particularly at school. Therefore, he needs to see the example of ‘normal acceptable behaviour’ coming from his father.

It is vitally important that your child feels he can still communicate with you openly while he is a teenager. So this will be one of your biggest challenges during the next few years. So keeping all lines of communication open between you both is vital, and will influence strongly how your relationship with him develops. However difficult and awkward the subject is, you can never have a ‘bad conversation’ with your child, only a good one, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. With all the challenges facing him during this period of his life, this is where you will really benefit from the investment in time and effort you made with him during his earlier years.

It is during that period where you have laid the foundations, to allow you to stay connected during the extremely challenging times ahead of you. Your child is still very vulnerable when he is a teenager, but he neither believes nor realises this, and he will get sick of hearing you telling him this. He will be rebellious and very difficult to manage at times, so, your role really is to guide him through this stage of his life. Don’t worry, he will come out the other side, every child does, and hopefully with a sense of independence and respect for you, his mother, as well as other people. He will need this sense of value and perspective when he becomes an adult.

It is possible to amuse your Toddlers whilst stuck in the car and avoid stress for all the family. Try these games and distractions and enjoy the ride.

Playing games in the car will normally stop your child getting bored and agitated. A good one that you can play with him, is ‘the snooker game’. You ask him to spot the colours of cars in the order of the balls played in a game of snooker. You start with white, then a red, then yellow, and all the way up to black. Have you ever noticed how few yellow, brown or pink cars there are on the roads? In fact there are hardly any pink ones at all. You can keep this game going for as long as you need to. It will keep your child amused for a long while, as well as distracting you.

Another game you can play is looking for the type or make of car. For example a Volkswagen Beetle, or an Aston Martin DB9. If you want the game to last a little longer for your child, then choose a rare type of car. If you want your child to find it quickly, choose a more popular model. There are many variations on this theme that you can use depending on how creative you want to be. For example, it could be marques of lorries, buses, vans or even caravans and trailers.

If you prefer to play more educational games with your child, you can play ‘Capital cities of the world’. This game is both interesting and educational for you and your child and keeps him focussed on fun learning instead of getting frustrated because he is bored in the car. Start with very easy ones such as the Capital city of England or Scotland. You call out the country and your child has to guess its Capital city. Once he gets used to some of the answers, you can progress to other more difficult ones from European or South American countries. You will be amazed just how much knowledge your child will pick up and retain.

As you know, the car can be a very challenging environment with your small child. Occasionally if the games don’t work, you can start singing songs together. This will work well for you and can be used as a means of passing time between two points on the road. If it is fifteen minutes until your exit, you can devise a game for all of you to sing songs, one after the other and you can all give marks out of ten. For example, between two junctions on a Motorway, suggest to everyone in the car to sing an agreed song or nursery rhyme, until the second junction is reached. There must be no exceptions, and everyone must join in. Let your child choose the song as soon as the one you have chosen is finished.

You will see that time passes very quickly like this and it is very good for strengthening bonds between you and your child. It also reinforces your child’s sense of doing fun things with you. Remember you want to have really good fun with your child, and that is an important part of your relationship together! For example, while going under the Dartford Tunnel, you and your child could sing “10 little ducks went swimming one day”. The goal would be to finish the song exactly at the moment when you leave the tunnel. Your child will be enthralled.

You can also invent stories to tell to your child in the car. He will be captivated. For example, you could invent a story about ‘The Wicked Witch of Gott’ (this is a totally made up name). She is an old witch who sits at her window watching the children go to school. If somebody pulls a face at her, she will cast a spell and that face would become permanent on the child who pulled it. You can only get your normal face back if you go up to the Witch’s house and apologise to the Witch in person (nobody wanted to do that). The only other way to get your normal face back is if the wind changes direction. You can adapt this story with different characters and draw it out or shorten it depending on the length of time you are in the car. This will be subconsciously teaching your child to be polite and not to pull faces at people, also to respect others who are different.

Your child will love stories which are told by you, so you can be very creative with them. For example, you could invent one about a family of dinosaurs and its prehistoric adventures, with each dinosaur representing one member of your family. You can let your Toddler choose who is what dinosaur, then you can recount a story which you can make up as you go along. If you let your child choose who you are, you might find that you always end up being the Brontosaurus! I wonder why……

If your Toddler is tired, he will sleep through anything, so you don’t need to worry.

Bedtime can be a stressful time for you, but you don’t really need to worry, as once you have got your Toddler into bed, if he is tired, he will go to sleep. You don’t need to close his door either. Many children can be afraid of the dark for no reason at all. Therefore, it will be reassuring for him if he wakes up in the middle of the night and doesn’t feel cut off from the rest of the family. Pitch blackness can be very intimidating and scary for a young child.

In any case, most young children do not need complete darkness or silence to sleep. When they are tired, they will sleep anywhere, even in bright sunlight in a noisy store or park. How many times have you seen a small child fast asleep in his parent’s arms or a pram, in the middle of the day? Leaving his door open can also be a good discipline for later on in life. It may well help keep your child with an ‘open’ attitude to you and others as he grows older. It should help avoid him trying to always close himself off in his bedroom when he is a teenager and distancing himself or becoming aloof from the rest of the family. It’s amazing how something as simple and unscientific as this, can help promote good habits, later on in life. And these habits die very hard in later years.

Children don’t need silence to sleep. Young children sleep if they are tired, and if they are not, then they won’t go to sleep. It can be reassuring for your Toddler to hear normal family background noise when he goes to sleep, so he does not feel cut off at bed time. It also means that your family can continue its normal household (sometimes noisy) routines in the evening. It is very important for your child’s development that he is raised in as normal household environment as possible. It goes without saying that normality is relative and based on your particular religion and culture. You will also feel less stressed as you will not be trying to keep other children quiet or keeping the general level of noise down.

A little night light in the background, particularly when your child is very young, will also help prevent him becoming afraid of the dark. Because he has this light on, as he grows older, darkness should never become an issue for him.

Make sure you kiss your child goodnight or he will remind you, irrespective of what you are doing. It could be very costly!

When you tuck your Toddler in at night, always kiss him ‘good night’, and when you go and greet him the next day, kiss him ‘good morning’ as well. If you do this from birth, it will become second nature to you both. It is yet another little brick in the castle of emotional ties that you are building up with your child, which will stay with both of you for the rest of your lives. Even if your child is asleep when you do this, subconsciously he will know and sense you have done it. It will also allow you both to close off the old day, and start an exciting new one together, the next morning.

This habit will last all the way through to adulthood, and if you happen to forget one night, you can be sure your child will remind you. I once had an embarrassing episode with my daughter, while I was taking an evening phone call from a potential new employer. I had answered the call before I had kissed her goodnight. She was 3 years old at the time.

I was downstairs trying to sell myself for this particular new job that I wanted and she was standing at the gate to her bedroom shouting “kiss me goodnight Daddy”. I could hear her very clearly, but was trying to remain focussed on the call. Eventually having been distracted for about 15 minutes, the call was about to end and the person interviewing me said “next time you should say goodnight to your child before you do a phone call like this”. I was shocked as I thought she couldn’t hear my Toddler. I then stumbled out some lame excuse, about why I hadn’t said goodnight to my daughter yet, before saying goodbye to my interviewer. I didn’t get the job by the way, so be warned…..

This and many more anecdotes and tips are in my Book Help I’m a Father, by Mark Hearn, which is available through Amazon