Leading by example - being a male role model for girls
As the parent who is around the most, I have an acute awareness that whatever I do or say has a profound impact on my girls. That’s both awesome and scary! Sometimes parents might think that their kids aren’t really listening or paying attention. I’ve come to learn that they are paying attention to almost every little thing you do or say. It’s such a massive responsibility!
I’ve said before that this is the best time in history to raise kids…it’s also the hardest. We have so many things at our fingertips and our disposal to make parenting easier. But we also have problems that we’ve never had to face before. It’s not just our kids who have to navigate these waters, but we as parents have to as well.
I’ve spent a good chunk of time recently wondering on how I raise my girls to be the best people that they can be. To instill in them values and traits and attributes that will get them through their teenage years and adulthood. How do I teach them how to form healthy relationships and deal with unhealthy ones?
It may seem a little weird that I’m thinking this far forward. I mean, I’m still just trying to get them to feed themselves and learn how to use the toilet. But I don’t think you can start too young at all. Already I’ve noticed that my 3 year old treats her sisters the same way she sees us treat them. She’s already learning how to form relationships and how the world works. So there are a fewthings I’ve realised that I can do to really make a difference, but here are my top three:
My girls need a dad who is present
I’m not saying this one because I’m a stay at home dad. I mean that girls need a dad who is present in their lives and interested in them and their accomplishments. By being present, I mean involved. There are plenty of dads who are “around.” You have to care about what they care about. Take them out one on one. Go to their sports games or recitals. Talk to them and tell them you love them. Earn their trust.
My girls need a dad who loves their mum
If I want my daughters to be able to form healthy relationships in the future, they need an idea of what one looks like. Now I know that doesn’t automatically mean they’ll find the perfect guy. But by showing them I love their mum and how much I love her will help. I’ve always said that by putting their mum first, I put them first. I truly believe that. How I speak to their mum, how I treat her is something they will keenly observe.
My girls need rules, boundaries…and freedom
Kids need rules and boundaries. It’s never too early to start making rules. In fact, the earlier you start, the easier it is for them to get used to following rules. We started with some simple ones, like cleaning up your toys when you’ve finished. I believe rules should be strict and have consequences for breaking them. However, I also believe that following the rules leads to less rules…and more freedom. My parents did this to me. The more I followed the rules, the more responsibility and freedom they gave me. I like this approach, because it allows kids to prove themselves.
Obviously how this looks and works will be different for every family and situation. Life happens, death happens, divorce happens. These things are obstacles to be overcome at the time. If I was to die, then my role can be filled by family members, friends or church leaders. My point is, I think I have a good starting point, something to build on.
Lastly, as I was writing this, I found some expert in the Herald “one-upped” me on this topic, read his article here.