The end of voting for our 2013 Military Fatherhood Award finalists is fast approaching. If you haven't had a chance to watch the videos of the four finalists and vote for your favorite, check it out on Facebook now!
This week, we're shining the spotlight on CPO Patrick Mondragon with some tips from his experience as a dad that you can apply in your own family.
Chief Petty Officer Patrick Mondragon, U.S. Navy
- Currently serving at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
- Father of two kids, daughter age 9 and son age 8
Tip 1) Spend one-on-one time with each child
In addition to spending time as a family, CPO Mondragon spends one-on-one time with both his son and his daughter. He takes his daughter to an annual Father-Daughter Dance, goes on field trips with the children's classrooms, and does other special things with both kids. Remember that each of your children need different things from you as a dad. Make a commitment to spend regular one-on-one time with each kid.
Tip 2) Make special days memorable for your kids
Before deploying, CPO Mondragon recorded videos his kids could watch on Valentine's Day, Christmas, their first day of school, or when they've had a bad day. He also creates a countdown activity calendar leading up to Christmas. Think about creative traditions you can add to your family's holidays. And don't forget to recognize the other big moments in your child's life, like losing the first tooth, starting school, or making the varsity team.
Tip 3) Make family dinners a priority
CPO Mondragon gets to work an hour early so that he can make sure he's always home for dinner with his family. Not every family is able to have dinner together every night, but as much as you are able, take time to have a meal together. NFI has some great ideas for how to use family meals as a opportunity to connect with your kids.
Tip 4) Read with your children
While he was deployed, CPO Mondragon served as the United Through Reading coordinator to help the sailors record videos for their children of themselves reading books aloud so that the kids could still have their dad read to them even while he was gone. For most civilian dads, bedtime stories don't require a DVD player - just grab a book and sit down together! Check out NFI's suggestions for investing in your children through reading.
Tip 5) Be strong for your family in the challenging times
When his children were very young, CPO Mondragon's wife experienced a life-threating medical situation and was hospitalized for an extended period of time. He had to assume full responsibility for their two toddlers and take care of her - and continue to fulfill his military duties. Your family's challenges will be unique, but your hard work, leadership, and love are key to helping your kids feel secure and grow through the situation.