I learned a lot of savvy parenting tips from my dad. After all, he and my mom did a great job. I turned out awesome. So did all my brothers and sisters. Now, my dad wasn't the typical old school dad. He tried corporal punishment on some of my older brothers and sisters. It didn't work all that well. So, he learned and moved on to better things. You won't ever hear me talking about kids today needing to be brought down a peg. That wasn't my dad's style. It's not mine, either. Here's what I did learn about parenting from my dad. Hope it helps you too.
1. Save your words for things that matter.
My dad would never blather on and on about his problems or ours. As for the points he wanted to convey, he kept it short and sweet. When he talked, we listened. That's likely due to the fact that he didn't talk much. When he did, we knew it was important. My dad was a bit of an introvert. It could be that he just had trouble socializing with us kids. Either way, though, it was an effective parenting strategy.
2. Weigh your decisions carefully, then stick to them.
If my dad told us something was going to happen, it happened. He never second guessed himself. He never went back on his word. He told us his decision and carried through. That was it. There was no arguing. We knew he meant it, because he never caved. Not once. There were a few times when I could tell he had misgivings about his original decision. Nevertheless, once a consequence was decided on, it was followed through to the end.
3. Make the punishment fit the crime.
In my parenting articles, you'll hear me talking about life lessons a lot. My dad wasn't familiar with that term. It hadn't been invented yet. Nevertheless, he kept our 'punishments' as close as he could to real life consequences. He was a bit of a pioneer in that department. While other parents of the era relied on old time methods, dad preferred to teach us appropriate lessons that stuck with us for life.
4. Respect begets respect.
Here again, my dad went against the grain. My friends had "respect" pounded into them by their parents. Dad preferred to earn the respect I gave him by respecting me. While he didn't tolerate misbehavior, he never belittled me either. I remember he would give me this look that said, "you know that's not the right thing to do." The thought that dad trusted me to do the right thing always made me want to make him proud.
5. Laughter is the glue that holds families together.
Oh, boy, did my dad love to laugh. Now that he's gone, I often get a mental picture of him laughing so hard with us kids that he lost his breath. He'd have tears literally rolling down his face. It was beet red with an ear to ear grin. I truly treasure those times of sharing a laugh with my dad. That's why I always try to keep my sense of humor intact with my kids and grand-kids. I want them to have many happy memories of me, just like I do of my dad.
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