Making the most of fatherhood


Make the most of being a dad in Canyon Lake . . .

Dads are the unsung heroes of Canyon Lake. Not all of them, of course. But Canyon Lake has proven to be a wonderful place to raise a family, and many of the dads work (or worked) hard to make it possible for their children and/or grandchildren to enjoy the lake and other amenities.

Call it setting an example or selfish ambition, dads also manage to enjoy the many activities living in a resort community offers. Many dads own boats, so they bring their kids to Learn to Ride and Learn to Ski Days. They take them fishing. They take them golfing. They take them to play tennis. They take them to the pool. They take their kids to Taco Tuesday and Family Movie Night.

Some fathers teach their sons and daughters how to work on cars and how to drive; how to mow the lawn and how to ride a motorcycle; how to grill chicken and how to make an omelet; how to be tough when life isn’t fair and how to be tender when someone is in need. Not all dads, of course.

For this week’s issue, children were given an opportunity to talk about their fathers on two subjects:

“Here is something my father does (or did) really well . . .;” and “Here is something my father taught me . . .” A few took the opportunity to recognize their dads; their tributes begin on Page A-4.

The internet is filled with good advice for fathers, but since many men are too busy to look up such advice, here is a summarized list from one father of six found at

  • Cherish your time with your children. One thing that will amaze you is how quickly the years will fly. The time you have with them is short and precious — make the most of it.
  • Don’t be the absent dad. The biggest mistake that dads make is not being there for their children. Always, always set aside time each day and each week for your children. Don’t let anything violate this sacred time. And at those big moments in your child’s life — a soccer game, a music recital, a science fair — do you very best to be there. It means the world.
  • Don’t look at anything as “mom” duties — share responsibilities. While there are a lot of good things from our grandparents’ day that we should bring back, the traditional dad/mom split of parenting duties isn’t one of them. Some men still look at certain duties as “mom” duties, but don’t be one of those dads.
  • Love conquers all. This one sounds corny, but it should be at the center of your dad operating philosophy: above all, show your children love. When you’re upset, instead of yelling, show them love. When they are upset, show them love. When they least expect it, show them love. Everything else is just details.
  • Kids like making decisions. While it is easier to be an authoritarian parent, what you’re teaching your child is to submit to orders no matter what. Instead, teach your (older) children how to make decisions, and they’ll grow up much more capable — and happier.Fiesta-Day-Mike-Clary
  • Learn the “firm no.” While I’m all for giving kids the freedom to choose, and for free play, and lots of other freedoms, there should be limits. Parents who don’t set boundaries are going to have children with behavior problems, who have problems when they grow up. Teach them that your “no” is firm; but only say “no” when you really feel that it’s a boundary you need to set.
  • A little patience and humor goes a long way. Take a deep breath, or a walk, when you start to lose your patience. There will be times when your child does something that might make you want to blow your lid — writing in crayon all over the walls, for example. While you need to teach your child not to do these things, it’s better to just laugh at the humor in the situation. (Note: some actions are not laughable, so don’t laugh them off and don’t blow your lid. Use them as teaching moments.)
  • Teach them independence. From an early age, teach your children to do things for themselves, gradually letting them be more independent as they grow older.
  • Read to them, often. Whether you’re a reader or not, reading to your children (from the time they’re babies onward) is crucial. It gets them in the habit of reading, and prepares them for a lifetime of learning. It gives you some special time together, and become a tradition your child will cherish.

    Mike is a great-grandfather, yet still gets out on boats, stands on sidelines and walks parade routes to capture the actions of fellow Canyon Lakers for The Friday Flyer and various

  • Let them play. Kids really develop through playing — aside from TV and video games (see below), aside from reading, aside from anything structured or educational. Just let them play, and make things up, and have fun.
  • Spark their imagination. Free play, mentioned above, is the best way to develop the imagination, but sometimes you can provide a little spark. Play with your kids, creating forts, dressing up as ninjas, role playing, imagining you’re explorers or characters in a movie or book – the possibilities are endless, and you’ll have as much fun as they will.
  • Limit TV and video games. Too much of this type of entertainment keeps them from doing more imaginative playing, from reading, from getting outside to exercise. I recommend an hour a day of “media time,” but you can find the amount that works for you and your family.
  • Model good behavior. It’s one thing to tell you child what she should do, but to say one thing and do another just ruins the message. In fact, the real lesson your child will learn is what you do. Your child is always watching you to learn appropriate behavior.
  • Treat their mother with respect, always. Some fathers can be abusive toward their spouse, and that will lead to a cycle of abuse when the child grows up. But beyond physical or verbal abuse, there’s the milder sin against the child’s mother: disrespectful behavior. If you treat your child’s mother with disrespect, your child will not only learn that behavior, but grow up with insecurities and other emotional problems.
  • Stand together with mom. It’s no good to have one parent say one thing, just to have the other contradict that parent. Instead, you and mom should be working together as a parenting team, and should stand by each other’s decisions. That said, it’s important that you talk out these decisions beforehand, so that you don’t end up having to support a decision with which you strongly disagree.
  • Let them be themselves. Many parents try to mold their child into the person they want their child to be, even if the child’s personality doesn’t fit that mold. Instead, instill good behaviors and values in your child, but give your child freedom to be himself. Love your child for who he is, not who you want him to be.

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Donna Ritchie