I hope that everyone had an awesome time with family for Thanksgiving! Now, we continue our journey to being better dads…
ESSENTIAL 1: Love and Enjoy Your Children
You would think that this one goes without saying but, allow me to further define what I mean. In Part 1, I mentioned how other parents felt they were trying to “prepare me” for upcoming stages of my child’s life. I rarely heard the positive comments first. I always heard the “wait and see…” comment, followed by some sort of Doomsday prediction that was going to culminate into a Tsunami of nuclear warheads detonating and completely obliterating my relationship with my child, my sanity, my sleep, my life…STOP!
I’m here to say to you that, EVERY stage of your child’s life is a blessing. The late night crying, feeding, and diaper stage is a blessing. Yes, you lose sleep. Yes, you have blood shot eyes like a Blood Hound giving you the wrinkled “puppy face” for a while. Yes, you have to throw up, pee and other liquids shot at you from multiple directions, getting in your hair, your clothes and even your mouth sometimes 😉 ….but that’s a beautiful thing!
And, for you men who think that only the mom should be the one to deal with that, you’re missing out. It’s extremely important for a father to bond with his child. When you’re holding your child, rocking them to sleep, looking them in their eyes, their no teeth smile, when they squeeze your finger…MAN! I can picture it all again, right now and I can’t help but smile and feel good inside. I truly do not understand how any man can walk away from their child or want no part in the child’s life. To me, a father walking away is the biggest issue in America, particularly with minorities. I’ll get into that another time…
The first steps’ stage is a gift. Remember those white shoes with the hard bottoms that we all had? They were supposed to help us keep our balance to help us walk, right? Yeah, right! The only thing most parents remember about those shoes is how much they hurt when you got kicked in the shin by them! I count myself as blessed because somehow I was able to catch all of my kid’s first steps on camera. Guess what they will be seeing at their graduation parties and weddings? There’s nothing like watching a child go from crying, sleeping, pooping and eating to crawling, standing, falling and walking. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It fills your heart with joy. And, if it doesn’t, it should.
And, there are a lot of other stages, going all the way up to adulthood. My point in saying to Love and Enjoy Your Children is, once these stages are gone, they are gone forever. There is no doing it first again. It’s already done and gone. You cannot go back and change it, all you have left is the memory of it. Yes, all of these stages have
their challenges. Each of these stages also has their blessings and beautiful memories. Which one will you choose?
ESSENTIAL 2: Encourage Your Children
There have been numerous articles and books written about this essential. A common question from parents is, “How do I encourage my child?” There are two camps of parents and, they have a tendency to want to heap too little and too much praise on their child. The two separate arguments are: you can’t give too much encouragement because the world can be cruel vs. you can’t give too much encouragement for little things that they should be doing anyway.
This is what I know…each child is different. I would experiment and see what type of praise and encouragement works for your child. It’s not a “one size fits all” proposition. I also know and believe that you SHOULD praise and encourage just as much as you discipline and correct. Look for ways to encourage giving behavior, kind acts to others, problem-solving behavior. You can’t go wrong with those; build from there, based on the child.
Think of it this way, how motivated would you be to do your work at your job if your boss was always in your face criticizing and berating you? How soon would you be looking for a new job or keep coming to the job and doing just enough, counting the minutes and seconds until you can clock out so you don’t “clock them?” Now, how motivated would you be to do your job if you were given proper incentives from your boss and your company? How much different do you think it is for your child, then?
ESSENTIAL 3: Fight For Your Children
This “essential” comes with some risk and some sacrifice. “Fighting” for your child is a multi-faceted gem. This does not mean that you come to your child’s defense with blinders on when they are clearly in the wrong. This does not mean you automatically begin to shout, “No, my child would never do that,” when several reliable witnesses say different.
Fighting for your child means that, you are willing to train your child up in the way they should go, and you’re willing to be there for your child even when it means that you have to sacrifice something else for yourself. This is especially true in the formative years. How far does it go beyond that? I don’t claim to know the answer. But, while they are in your care, they must “know” you care.
The pastor of my church talks about an experience with one of his sons, back when his son was in high school. Apparently, the son was no longer doing well in school and having some “trouble” following direction. The thought was, the child was hanging with the wrong crowd and getting into some things that could lead him down a lifelong path of bad decisions that could destroy his life. What would pastor do about this? He needed to do what he could to try and correct the behavior, but what?
Well, even though he had a full-time job and other responsibilities to attend to, he changed his schedule around and went to school with his high school son! He was able to see first-hand what was going on, speak with teachers, observe his son, BUT most importantly, he was able to show his son what the son meant to him. He wanted to let him know that he was important enough, his future was important enough to him, that he was willing to do whatever it took to show that and to get him back on track.
How far are you willing to go, if you see your child headed to a dark place? How far are you willing to go if the mother is doing everything she can to keep you away from your child to be in the child’s life? How will you fight for your children?
We’ve got one more part to go in this 3-parter. I’ll go over the last 4 essentials next week. Blessings, blessings, and more blessings to you!
Larry Tank Jones is an actor, producer, philanthropist, and motivational speaker that loves to push himself and others to be the best they can be.
He has acted in dozens of movies, the most notable being “Three Kings,” and has appeared in several television shows, including NCIS, CSI: Miami, Breaking Bad and more. He has a leading role in the historical film, Union Bound, which is set to be released in April.
Tank Jones is also a producer, he is currently producing the series Fire and Ice, and is the co-producer of the very successful Latin Comedy Jam comedy tour.
In addition to his film career, Tank is a motivational speaker who has traveled the country speaking on behalf of his nonprofit organization, Choices Empowerment. Choices Empowerment was founded in 2003 to promote diversity and to help encourage elementary, middle and high school students to have a positive outlook toward themselves and their goals.