Let's be real: Parenting is NOT easy.
Dads have kind of a weird position. For a long time, it was assumed that fathers would work, and mothers would do all the childcare. Which honestly short-changed everyone. It means that moms were often barred from the workplace and financial independence (while the very real work of raising kids was dismissed), and it meant that dads often didn't get to have a strong and fulfilling relationship with their families. (Not to mention is excluded LGBT+ couples from the equation). Most importantly, it was bad for kids. All they really need is to be loved and cared for.
Things are changing, but can we make it happen faster?
As more and more dads are working on creating strong, healthy, and beautiful relationships with their kids, they might be struggling with ways to make it happen. After all, if their dads weren't doing it, who can they learn from? Here's five things dads can do to show their kids how much they're loved!
1. Story time.
This was really special for me and my dad. Every night he'd read to me until I fell asleep. We started with picture books, but later on he started sharing books that he really loved, like The Hobbit. He passed down a love for reading that's made me a better person, and it meant that we ended every day doing something together.
2. Find an activity you can do together.
This doesn't have to be a competitive sport, though that's a great idea too! A weekly or monthly hike or bike ride will get you both outdoors and create awesome memories you can both look back on later. What you do isn't important, it's that you make time to do it. And that you remember sunscreen.
My dad taught himself too cook, and I quote, because he "was hungry". Which I think says a lot about who he is as a person. He taught me to cook because it's really easy to get kids excited about cooking when cake and cookies are the end result. You take care of anything that involves sharp knives and hot ovens, but you'd be surprised at how good kids are at measuring and mixing once they get the hang of it!
4. Talk to them.
This seems kind of silly because it's both obvious and absurd. Of course you talk to your kids! And on the other hand... kids say some WILD stuff. But every time you talk to each other, your kids are learning- they model their behavior and speech after yours. And every time you ask them about their day, their friends, and how they're feeling, you're letting them know that they matter to you and that they are special.
5. Blanket forts.
The best solution to rainy days. Both of my parents did this with us once in a while and they're some of my happiest memories. Just make sure you plan ahead and spare time to clean up! Leaving a mess for future you is no fun.
Don't just show: Tell!
In addition to spending time with your kids, TELL them that you love them. Give them frequent hugs and kisses (when they're comfortable with it), and help them understand what it means to care for someone. If you have a partner, work with them to spend as much time as you can with your family. Because they're worth it.