By now, you’ve probably read the CNN.com article making the Internet rounds by contributor Jeff Pearlman. In “A father’s day wish: Dads, wake the hell up!”, he takes his fellow dads to task for devoting their precious little free time pursuing purely selfish (and kid-free!) activities like golf and wonders why more dads don’t want to spend these fleeting moments with their children.
At the end of the article, he offers his 10 Commandments of Righteous Fatherhood, which include playing with dolls, waking up early with the kids and telling your children you love them.
As I read the article, my first thought was “how could women stay married to men like that”? Then, I got angry at the dads. And then, I felt sorry for moms and a little smug.
I’m one of the lucky ones. My husband not only does all the good things, he WANTS to do them and many times go above and beyond. It’s not uncommon for him to wake up on a Saturday morning and spend the entire day with her. Whether they’re doing yard work, building a sandbox, running errands or going to a Disney park (or four), it’s not unusual for him to take over all parental duties for the day.
Inspired by my husband, here are a few commandments I’d add to Jeff’s list.
— Never think that your child is too young to do something. Take them bowling — even when they can barely hold the ball. It doesn’t matter if every ball is a gutter. They won’t remember that. They’ll remember that you cared to take them and more importantly, TEACH them something new and fun.
— Take your kids on errands with you. Yes, it takes five times as long as it would going alone. But you never know when it’s going to make a routine trip five times as fun. Can you say orange shopping cart races at Home Depot? Oh, it’s a thing. Why else would they be shaped like race cars?
— Slow down. Sometimes, you need to let your kids take their time to explore the world — seashell by seashell.
— Be silly. There’s nothing E. likes more than when her dad makes Wookiee noises, cat noises, teaches her to say “How now brown cow” over and over to annoy mommy or plays dress up. See, dress up can be totally badass.
— Make your child your co-conspirator (but make sure Mom secretly knows! We get made about real secrets). E. thinks she’s pulling one over on me on the mornings when she and Daddy go to Dunkin Donuts before school. It’s a rare treat but one that means a lot to her.
— For God’s sake, drop your kids off at school or pick them up at the end of the day! I can’t stress how much of a difference it made when DadJovi started driving E to school every morning at the beginning of this school year. It was one less thing to stress me out in the mornings and E. got to share her excitement over her new teacher, her new friends and her new school with her Daddy. And he got to meet the people helping to raise our daughter and the kids she spends so much time with. Don’t you want to know the people with such a huge impact on your child?
— Take your kids to the park. I can’t get over how few dads I see at the park. Isn’t a smile like this worth it?
— Be man enough to let your kids explore the world (trust me, most of us moms are too scared to let them really do this). Help them pick up bugs, walk independently down the sidewalk or get a little too close to the water’s edge … just don’t let them too far out of reach.
— And I echo Jeff’s final commandment — tell your kids you love them every.single.day. Hell, make it 10 times a day. The Beatles were right — money can’t buy you love. Forget the expensive toys, elaborate birthday parties and all the other reasons you tell yourself you have to work so much. This is what they’ll remember — the love.