Being a father of three children is a lot of work.
Work that I love to do more than anything else in the world, but with this work comes the real hard work or the hidden work that gets little recognition, is not discussed at birthday parties between dads, nor does this work get or deserve high-fives among the dads at swim class.
The work I’m referring to is being consistent.
As parents we want our kids to be safe, and felt loved and supported and all that stuff, but if we don’t teach our children the right way to treat others and if we don’t set them up to be able to take care of their own affairs, then what are we doing for our kids besides providing food, shelter and love?
As the “helicopter generation” hovering over our children to keep them free from harm and protect them from a wanton stare from little Suzie or a mean word from little Billy, we do our kids no favours at all stuck to their sides. We tell them to say please and thank you, and we correct them on everything they do that does not meet our approval but do they remember what we tell them? If they did, why would we have to do it over and over again, so it seems, or why does someone in their class calling them silly crush them, but us telling them they behave poorly does not?
It’s because they hear our voices and they tune out. No one wants to be corrected constantly, nor do they want to feel unloved, or disliked, so if our kids are in an environment where they feel any of these things, then we have to step up and act. Not talk the talk, but walk the walk.
In The Urban Daddy household, we teach our children to stand up for themselves – without violence and without having to tell the teacher – to make sure that they are able to handle a situation now, in later grades, in business and in life. They don’t have to be mean, or demanding – they should try to be nice and use please and thank you, but they certainly do not have to take someone else’s bullshit or be picked on for no reason at all. I believe we call this bullying.
Our kids have to be organized, and be part of a routine at school and at home. Organization helps out our family unit and helps their teachers do what they need to do without my kids being a distraction or causing interruptions. Sometimes this is not possible as we are learning with 2 boys, but it is what is expected by us and taught to the kids. If they are able to do this, they are expected to. If they are unable to, then they will be taught it. If they are still unable, they will be helped and hugged. Never blamed. Never made to feel bad.
But back to consistency…
Without consistency at home (and I struggle the most with this – always have) the kids get mixed messages and it throws them off. When our morning routine involves a good morning, the opening of the shutters to let in the light, getting a glass of water to drink, a piece of fruit to eat, and then helping make breakfast and lunches, it messes up the children when the routine is fixed some days but not every day?
Even before the kids come down for breakfast they must get dressed, make their beds and on Monday’s and Friday’s made sure their bedroom floors are empty from toys they do not want to have stored in the vacuum cleaner. So if they come down one day not dressed, they must be sent back upstairs to be dressed, so they understand the importance of following our routine. Our consistency.
To be consistent is not something that can be accomplished in one day. It’s a long-term challenge.
It’s also a long-term challenge when you work hard at home to develop a routine, have the kids buy-in, then be consistent with that routine, but when the kids go to school, or to extra-curricular programs the same does not hold true? With different teachers, or teachers who do not understand the importance of organization and consistency, and that by putting in that effort in each and every kid, the benefit pays off ten-fold in the near future and for the rest of their lives.
Each and every year I sit down with my kids teachers to let them know what works for my child and what doesn’t. What should be brought to my attention and what should be handled by the child themselves. I do this so that the teachers know that we are on their side, we support them, and that while we check in often, it’s not out of concern for the children, but rather to ensure that they are learning, contributing and being good members of their classroom.
Imagine the surprise of finding out that one of these external providers of education are failing your child, and doing so in a big way.
Imagine the feeling of emptiness knowing that all that support and information your poured into the teachers and all the feedback you received was not worth the air it was breathed into.
I’ve been nice, and I’ve been kind and I will not give them the satisfaction of removing him from this situation and going out of my way to find him a new program to attend. I’m going to fix this. We’re going to fix this, and at the end of the day, my kids are going to get the consistency, organization and respect they deserve and someone else is getting my hard-earned money.
The problem is that until all the pieces have fallen into place – whether we stay or whether we go – I feel like I’m in a state of paralysis by analysis.