‘Fathers Who Dare Win’ is a confronting but captivating title for a great book on how to be a great dad. Ian Grant, the author, was for many years New Zealand’s number one parenting coach.
Ian and his wife founded the Parenting Place in 1993. That organisation is now the largest positive parenting charity in New Zealand. The following extract from Fathers Who Dare Win, which is about becoming a hero for your children, is well worth the read and so is the whole book.
Not many of us have the opportunity to rush into a burning building, while being shot at by terrorists, to rescue a damsel in distress. However our children need their dads to be heroes. Our children need moral heroes, faithful heroes and wise heroes.
Heroes who will honour their pledges and commitments even when the going gets tough; who will hang in there with their kids long after there is any reward in it for them,
In fiction, heroes are born on Krypton and possess super-human ability to do the things they do. The stories of real-life heroes show that they are normally cut from common cloth and possess all the frailty and fears common to us all. However, when needed, they are there for those who need protection or rescuing.
As a father, you have an advantage; you don’t have to do anything superhuman – you already are a hero to your kids (until they discover otherwise!) Until about the age of twelve, unless you are very unlucky, your children will probably think you are the best father they could ever have.
After that, a radical re-evaluation may take place! Relax, because the word ‘teenager’ is not a disease; it is just a time of life, and there will still be many instances when even your teenagers need the ‘hero’ dad to be there for them.
I like this story, told to me by a friend, about how his teenage daughter rang him one night from a party. He picked up the phone and before he could say anything, she said, “Oh Dad, do I have to come home now? It’s only 11 o’clock! Oh Dad! Oh! All right, do you know where to come? OK, I’ll be out on the street in 10 minutes.”
He hadn’t said a word yet! But he understood the message – his daughter didn’t want to be where she was; she wanted a safe (and face-saving) ‘out’ of the situation, and she knew she could use her father as the fall guy!
He said, “I drove to pick her up feeling like James Bond!” He was her knight in shining armour; someone she knew she could trust to be there when she needed him.
If you were to ask a group of children who their heroes were, you would get such answers as the latest great actor, sports person or singer. But true heroes are not media personalities of pop stars.
Parents are the logical ones to be heroes to their kids.
True heroes are there for the long haul. Fathers who demonstrate character, kindness, consistency and integrity – are the most inspiring role models and true heroes. Children of these sort of fathers are ‘boomerang’ kids. They keep coming back! Remember the song ‘Cats in the Cradle’? The son kept repeating, “I want to be like you Dad” and in the end that is just who he became, but in a sad negative way!…
… For parents, there really are only a few days to seize. How many years is it from now until your child is eighteen years old? Let’s say you have ten years left of parenting a child – plenty of time, you might be thinking.
But think back ten years. What were you doing then? It doesn’t’ seem long ago, does it? And I assure you, the next ten years are going to go a lot faster than the last ten. These few short years of your child’s childhood go in a flash.
Treasure them (and take lots of photos), but don’t forget to seize every opportunity and moment they give you to inspire them, keep them safe and develop their talents and their ability to get on with other people. What you are really doing as a parent is helping your children to write their ‘life story’ …
…I believe we should aim to be a dad who has dignity, and who plays by the rules, role-modelling healthy manhood to our children. This is the type of dad children will value as a friend and mentor long after their acne has cleared up.
Being an awesome dad will be your life’s finest work.
So, Dads, ‘parent with style’ and never stop working on being a hero to your kids.
Step up to the plate and become the hero your children need by being the man that you should be. Your children need you so take encouragement from the words of Tim Hansel, “It takes time to be a good father. It takes effort – trying, failing and trying again.”
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