Me in Cahuita National Park on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica with family
Now that a new year is upon us we as fathers can make new choices and commit to being optimal fathers in the lives of our children. I was reminded of the importance of the power and influence I have as a father during a recent trip to Costa Rica with my daughter. I was with my brother Mauricio and my daughter on our way to Parrita, Costa Rica. As we were driving on the highway there was a toll stop and we approached the line of cars waiting to pay their toll. As we waited a young man with tattered clothes, sun scorched skin, and scruffy sandals walked over to my window. I took the opportunity to check my wallet for colones as he was selling pineapple slices and bags of gelatin. I asked him how much for the gelatin as that interested my daughter more than the pineapple slices. He replied 500 colones and I gave him 1000 (roughly the equivalent of 2 dollars) and thanked him. My daughter squealed with delight when I handed over the gelatin pack to her. I then took the opportunity to make it a teachable moment by expressing to her that the young man worked to survived each day and that he was busting his hump selling so that he could bring food to his family tonight. I told her the importance of appreciating what we have and giving when we can because we are blessed. A few minutes later after some thoughtful reflection she stated, “Papá I love you so much because you always help others and I think you are so sweet to do that.” Upon hearing these words I knew that she had learned the lesson on the importance of giving and not focusing on the gelatin which she had gotten. This made me very proud of her and myself as her father. This anecdote is a good preview to some helpful suggestions on how you can refocus on your fathering experiences this year:
- Give when possible (with your kids there as well) and involve them in the giving process. Again giving is not always money it can be hugs, kisses, compliments, family stories, etc.
- Make sure to set aside one on one time with each child in your family each week (ideally one hour each week).
- Model good eating habits by limiting fried foods and sweets in your diet (kids watch what you eat).
- Involve your child in an exercise regimen (doing sit ups together, walking together, running together, going to the gym together, etc.)
- Compliment your child often and tell them to believe in themselves daily.
- Say I love you and I am proud of you as often as possible.
- Involve your child in spiritual /religious activities however that is defined for yourself and your family.
- Read each night with your child.
- Don’t be afraid to be silly and make fart noises in random times (my daughters love those).
- Be present and make sure to make that eye contact with your child when speaking and listening.
Many of these I will be concentrating on for this year and feel free to incorporate these suggestions with your child(ren). I hope this year brings each of you prosperity and happiness and a concentrated sense of life…
If you would like to learn more about me or my practice Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting, PLLC and have questions feel free to visit my website www.iccounseling.net as well as read my Inner Compass Blog.
Dr. Gerald Brown (Doc Brown) is owner of Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting PLLC in Cornelius, NC and Statesville, NC. He is passionate about fatherhood issues, immigrant concerns, and specializes in trauma work. Doc Brown has presented at various conferences and has a multitude of experience training organizations and corporations in diversity and multicultural resilience. He believes in helping individuals, couples, and families find meaning and integrate that meaning with various resiliencies in order to live purposefully and vibrantly. He is married with two daughters ages 14 and 5.