I am the proud father of an amazing thirteen year old boy. Kyle (not his real name) was born when I was in high school, so it’s fair to say I wasn’t the most prepared father in history. We got by though and, even though his mother and I split a number of years ago and Kyle lives with her, I am still a part of his life.
At thirteen, Kyle is no longer the adorable little boy that I loved so much, but a handsome young man whom I feel I’m getting to know all over again. The next few years will set the trajectory for the rest of our lives, so I want to be sure that I’m the best father I can be. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of my Top Five Parenting Resolutions for the New Year.
5) Have a conversation with my child at least once a day.
Kyle and I have been good about communicating with one another by phone, or text, or even Facebook. But there are days when we don’t catch up. Sometimes I’m busy in the evening, or I leave a voicemail and he doesn’t call back. I will be sure to reach him every day, even if it’s just to tell him I love him and let him get back to whatever he’s doing.
4) Have a meaningful conversation with my child at least once a week.
Either on the phone or when we meet on the weekends, I want to play an active role as Kyle’s view of the world explodes during his teen years. As Kyle forms his adult opinions on society, politics, religion, gender, race, and all of the other big subjects, I want to be sure to steer him where I can to see all humans as equal, and deserving of respect and opportunity that he has.
3) Expose my child to a new culture at least once a month.
Kyle lives is a pretty homogeneous community. By showing him other cultures I hope to broaden his horizons so he will be better able to appreciate differing points of view. I hope too that, by showing Kyle other cultures, he will better appreciate how very similar we all are.
2) Be firm when necessary, and lenient when not.
Because Kyle’s mother is in charge of the day-to-day parenting, I’ve often been able to be more lenient with him to curry favor. This is bad for all of us. I will consult with Kyle’s mother on important decisions, and apply her standards when Kyle and I are together.
1) Quit smoking.
OK, so this isn’t exactly a parenting issue per se, but it is important. Even if Kyle can’t see me smoke, he can smell it on me and it’s a poor example. I also want to be around for as long as I can for him.
I hope this helps you with your parenting resolutions. Good luck in the New Year!