The world expects working dads like you to play many roles - businessman, community servant, and amateur sports coach, just to name a few. But your role as father trumps them all. The responsibilities you take on at home far outweigh those elsewhere.
While there isn't room to list them all, here are five "hats" you put on, some quite often, that you can wear well. All it takes is dedication, the realization you're equipped to take on these roles, and accepting that you'll make some mistakes along the way.
Captains steer ships. They plot the course, learn the conditions of the seas they travel, guide their vessels away from danger, and deliver their passengers to their destinations.
Not all families fit into the same mold. You may lead your family alone. You and your spouse may have agreed on a sharing of leadership roles that works best for you. Regardless of how things shake out, working dads have to be leaders. They make decisions about finances, education, extra activities, and community involvement. While you won't always make the right decisions, the important thing is that you make the best ones you can and captain with confidence.
Except for those of us who have loved ones and friends who serve in such a capacity, we gain much of our assumptions about those in law enforcement from the media. Contrary to what takes place in TV shows and movies, a lot of police work is merely being present and ready to act. The mere appearance of a uniformed officer goes a long way toward keeping the peace.
In one of his early comedy routines, Bill Cosby said, "Parents don't want justice. They want peace." In a lot of homes, that's absolutely true. Who doesn't want a peaceful household? But peace at the expense of justice will end up dividing your family instead of uniting it. Wearing the police officer's hat means your kids know you're willing to step into a dispute to settle it. It means they trust you to be fair, not to hastily move toward a false resolution, and to protect the weaker person in an argument.
Most university professors no longer wear the mortarboard except during formal ceremonies, such as commencements or degree conferrals. The four-sided cap used to mean its wearer had earned a doctoral degree. You may not consider yourself "Dr. Dad," but every father possesses life skills and experiences he can share with his family.
This kind of teaching doesn't have to look like school. Do you have a favorite hobby or pastime? Find a way to include your kids in it. Be patient as their young minds grasp skills and concepts with which you're already comfortable. Allow them to mess up along the way, knowing you're giving them room to learn at their own pace. If you serve your community, take them along to learn about what you do. Even if they're too little to help with household repairs and upkeep, just letting them know you welcome their company will go a long way toward establishing learning patterns.
Those green visors - you see them in movies, and you wonder where they came from. Originally, they were intended to reduce eye strain for bookkeepers who worked long days under harsh lighting. We won't blame you if you don't want to wear something like that around the house. But you can wear the accountant's hat by helping your kids understand how to use money wisely.
Begin by demonstrating in simple ways the four important things we do with money - earning, saving, spending, and giving. Provide them small jobs to accomplish, and then pay them immediately. The amount doesn't matter as much as the concept that a job done well is worth a reward. And don't let them spend it all. Show them the wisdom of holding something back for later. When they do spend, help them to see that they have choices and that it's okay to expect a good value for their hard-earned dollars. Finally, expose them to the joys of giving to someone in need, whether that be an orphan half a world away or the family across the street.
Strap on your pith helmet. It's time to lead your family out into the big, wide world outside. No, that doesn't mean you have to spend their college funds on the vacation of a lifetime. But it may mean breaking out of your at-home routine to introduce your kids to something new.
Check your local newspaper for free family-oriented activities in your community. Visit a park or nature trail in a neighboring town. Or, if you're feeling especially adventurous, plan a day trip to a museum, discovery center, or memorial. And of course, make sure you involve the kids in planning, from where you'll eat lunch to what games you'll play during the car ride. Remember, it's not just the children who will be learning and growing. Their leader might discover a thing or two he hadn't known before.
What other kinds of hats do you regularly wear as a working dad? Please leave your comments below.