Owner’s manuals come with about anything you can buy these days--from cameras and lenses to Mercedes Benzes. These manuals tell you all you need to know about the product--how it opens and closes, how to change batteries, what to troubleshoot and so much more. I doubt many of us read these manuals as thoroughly as we should, but they are there if we need them. You might even say babies come with an owner’s manual since Dr. Spock’s “Baby and Child Care” first came out in 1946. Actually, you have to buy this manual and of those who do, who do you think is most likely to read it? That’s right—moms!
Often new fathers are clueless about childcare. With time, most new dads pick up the basics—holding their children, changing diapers, and feeding them. However, a few never do and this is a huge mistake. It’s not only an opportunity to help the mother, but an opportunity to bond with his child. What can we do to minimize this situation? A father is a necessary piece of the parenting puzzle. He complements and helps the mother with his different strengths. He is the male influence and masculine example for his children. It is important for him to be there for his kids through his love, discipline, and support.
Unfortunately, about 30%-40% of future fathers will have been raised without a father in their home.
- Where do they go for advice?
- What memories can they fall back upon to know how to handle a situation?
- Do they know how important they are in their kids’ development?
While I would like every father to read a dad’s parenting ‘owner’s manual’, it’s not going to happen--especially by the very fathers that need the knowledge the most. What we can do is meet them halfway with something they can catch onto quickly, and remember! Something that will give them a baseline approach about what to do, so they have the potential to be a good dad!
The new father could be a young man who finds himself in a situation he has never really comprehended and certainly didn’t prepare for. It may be a confused father who is having difficulty fulfilling his role and doesn’t know where to turn. It could even be for the father who is away from home too often, traveling or busy with work, and doesn’t know how to perform his role as a parent. They all need a simple fathering philosophy to go by, or a quick reminder to re-calibrate when they feel lost. I have a suggestion.
My simple lesson in Dadhood can be remembered by the acronym, C.L.A.S.S.Y. Every father should be C.L.A.S.S.Y. While this lesson will take a lifetime to perfect, the knowledge can carry a dad through many perilous and indecisive situations as a father.
There is no magic in these words. They are not invented here. It is common knowledge for successful parents. The value in these words mean nothing unless they are conveyed to those who need to hear and heed them. Any new father that follows this advice will be aware of about 95% of all he needs to know to be an excellent father. That doesn’t mean he will necessarily have successful, productive children because they are their own individuals and must do their part. But the odds of success increase dramatically!
Be CLASSY--Consistent, Loving, Available, Sincere, Silly, and Yourself.
- Consistent > A father must be consistent. He must say what he means and mean what he says. He must also be consistent in applying the CLASSY principle. Just about every dad wants to do the right thing. They’re just afraid they don’t know what to do. Being CLASSY tells them what to do and that is to be:
- Loving > Except in very rare circumstances, all fathers love their children. Many, however, are afraid to show it or don’t know how to express it. This is often caused by the fact they were never shown that kind of love and have no model to go by. To be loving is to show your love!
- Available > This is another way of saying “Be There” for them. Some fathers are “there” but not really available because they are emotionally distant or unapproachable. The most important thing you can do for your children is to give them your attention!
- Sincere > A sincere father is genuine, honest, and serious. He gives truthful answers and has a demeanor, backed up by his trustworthiness, which says “trust me”--and his children do. A sincere dad believes in himself. He doesn’t have to believe he has all the answers, but he believes he will sincerely do his very best.
- Silly > One of the best characteristics of a good dad is to have a sense of humor with his kids. Have fun with them! Be silly sometimes--not all the time, but often. Play games, pretend, juggle, make faces, have races, just interact in a fun way. There are times to be serious, for sure, and a sincere dad knows automatically when to be serious and when he can be fun or funny. To be silly at the wrong time can be devastating, while being serious all the time does not create healthy relationships.
- Yourself > I saved maybe one of the most important pieces of advice for the end. A dad must be himself! He can’t be authoritarian if he is not that type. He must be sincere. He can’t be a comedian if he doesn’t have the knack. But he can be lighthearted. He can still be a good dad while avoiding diapers or combing his daughters hair--but he better be good at helping in some way. Sporting dads can do outdoor things with their kids. Reading dads can read with their kids. Dads who like baseball can take their kids to the game and play catch. Incorporate your fathering into your personality. Just be yourself while remembering your Dadhood!
Print this article and/or save it somewhere, and every time you see a young man who is about to have a child, especially a first child, give it to him. It just may change his outlook for the better and provide the confidence he will certainly need for the most precious responsibility he will ever have. No doubt it will make life much better for his child.
Any dad that wants more depth or more information on fathering can get my book on this topic: The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs