I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to just draw back and knock the snot out of one of my kids. Don't judge. If you have kids, especially boys, you know EXACTLY what I mean. In a house full of boys (4 to be exact), it's never a dull moment. I've got a better solution. Just bear with me and I'll fill you in.
My oldest son, Jaicob is 19 and just graduated from Air Force Basic Training yesterday. My youngest is literally jumping up and down beside me this very moment in the booth I'm eating breakfast in here at the Marriott in Austin (and there goes the OJ...ugh.)
Being a father has been the most confusing, most fulfilling, most challenging, most rewarding, most frustrating, and most amazing, thing I've ever done. It reminds me of the song by Kenny Chesney "There Goes My Life". If you've not heard it, listen to it (Click the song title to listen).
As a very young man of 40 I've had the opportunity to raise 2 sets of boys. Jaicob and Noah (19 and 17) and Maximus and Titus (4 and 2). Needless to say, Maximus and Titus got the better version of me. Jaicob and Noah kinda got the raw, uneducated, inexperienced version that continually found himself failing forward (for a great book see Fail Forward by John Maxwell).
I have to admit, despite the amazing pics I've included here, I've worried and stressed about a lot as I've death crawled through parenthood. However, with a lot of great council, a lot of reading, a lot of help and A Lot of prayer I've raised some STELLAR boys (not alone of course).
So instead of punching them in the face every time you get the urge, I've got a better idea.
Albert Bandura (psychologist) is the man responsible for the "Social Learning Theory". The social learning theory pretty much says that kids will do what you do more often, than what you say to do. Did you get that? In other words, if you want your kids to behave in a way that you're not wanting to strangle the hell out of 100 times a day, start acting in the way you want them to act.
I personally know parents that curse like sailors AROUND THEIR KIDS but relentlessly get onto their kids for using that same vulgar language. I personally know parents that are lazy, unhealthy, have poor eating habits, and take absolutely no responsibility for the way they treat or act toward others, BUT expect and even preach to their kids against doing those very things.
A few years back I reached my heaviest weight at 215 pounds (not from muscle). I never placed any limits on what I ate, I worked out very little, and I never did cardio. At that same time, my older boys had no fitness goals. They were always to be found on their gaming system or in their rooms watching TV. One of the 4 also suffered from self-esteem issues, which I didn't find out until recently.
January 1st 2013 I decided enough was enough. I would get in shape. It didn't happen overnight, but my appearance began to change my attitude began to change. The way I carried myself even began to change.
Before long my kids were asking me if they could work out and even exercise with me. This last year I've seen unbelievable growth, mentally and physically in my boys, even the 4 year old (who loves to watch me work out "Dad when I get big I want to have big muscles like you!")
Not to pick on my 17 year old, but he has lost 25 pounds of adipose but has gained 7 pounds of lean muscle. People are noticing his progress at school and even comment on his pecs and biceps. This has caused a quantum leap in the way HE now carries himself.
As I've changed other areas of my life, I've seen my children undergo similar changes shortly thereafter. Another example, using my 17 year old, is his reading habits. I have a personal goal of reading a book a week (being in Nurse Practitioner school has really challenged this goal). I'm sure to read in front of my kids, as well as talk to them about and/or discuss concepts I glean from the books I read. What kind of effect do you think this has had?
My 17 year old has begun reading. He's read books like "Unlimited Power" by Tony Robbins, "Rich Dad Poor Dad", by Robert Kyiosaki, and "Mentor The Kid and the CEO" by Tom Pace and has even began reading, watching, and learning financial principles by Dave Ramsey!
As fathers we have a TREMENDOUS responsibility. We might not think the things we do make any difference in the eyes of our little ones, but they are the most important things. Our behaviors not only determine OUR outcomes but our children's as well. They might now always do what you say, but statistically they will always do what you do, whether you're there or not.
Mahatma Gandhi said it best when he said "Be the change you want to see in the world." Next time your kid does something that really sets you off, think about what behavior you've been modeling.
I hope this has been valuable to you. If so, please subscribe, comment below, and share it on social media so other dads might benefit. Thanks so much for taking the time!