It has always bothered me that many of us, even as adults, at times become concerned about what others might be thinking or saying about us. We fall prey to the ridicules idea that another person, and often a stranger, might have a negative opinion of our actions. As if their, mostly careless, negative criticism were something worth for us to endure.
Naturally I frown upon the idea of allowing our insecurities to measure us against other people. I hope we all agree that it makes no sense to allow others –especially strangers- the power to affect our mood when they judge us. This however, could be a good thing, as long as we assume that the comparison functions as a measuring stick of our emotional intelligence –rather than for the purpose of trying to fit in- and it has the potential to represent an opportunity to become a better person. And since our discussion is about us and our children, I’d like to suggest that for us, fathers and mothers alike, there may be a better approach: To switch critics by replacing “strangers” with “our children”.
I think of it this way: If we chose to bring a new person into this world, and we take full responsibility for their wellbeing, both physical and emotional, then there could be no more important person to please than them.
Immediately after the birth of one’s first child, no matter how old or mature we are at that time, we must embrace the challenge to become the person we’d like our children to be, and since children will primarily do as we do and not as we say, this makes for a great point to part from by making our greatest responsibility our most demanding critic.
It is true that this concept is easiest understood by those people that already have children, since this becomes most obvious when our children begin displaying our behavior- Some of it is funny, and at times adorable, but some of it is obviously not the behavior we’d like them to display. And so it is at these moments we could remind ourselves to improve that particular part of us so that we can better it while at the same time we help our children become the best possible people for themselves.
What’s great about applying this method to become a better father is that we can actually gage the rate of success of our actions: 1) By seeing our attitudes and relationships improve with our children, and 2) By seeing the relationship with our partners also improve.
One of the most useful advice I picked up from Napoleon Hill regarding the reaching of any goal, comes in the way of developing a plan that contains daily exercises, or steps, that require me to check them off a list as I execute them, thus forcing me to develop an almost constant awareness of the goal.
If for example our children cry after we’ve given them some sort of direction, then we can take that as a cue that we might have been too harsh –or simply that the approach was less than ideal- and now this is a chance to embrace the opportunity to put a check-mark on that item of the plan that involves apologizing for our actions while engaging in extra communication with the child, by explaining our thought process.
When we do this sort of exercise we become more emotional present, and this is always a fantastic state of mind since it absolutely is conducive to the betterment of us, our children, our partners, and thus the family as a whole.