Being a dad requires a professional balancing act. There are so many roles that you play. It is hard to be supportive, maintain rules, be a counselor, a defender, a teacher, and yes…fun. We all want to have fun with our kids. We hope that our kids will desire to hang out with us because it is cool to do so. The sad part is that there are not many dads that I know who are willing to be weird. Let me explain.
Weirdness as a dad has everything to do with timing. We can’t be known as a joke. I mean, our kids have to take us seriously when things are serious. However, we must embrace laughter, fun, and crazy times to bask in the joy of life. Therefore, why don’t I just say “have fun when you can?” I like doing fun things that are different. For that, you have to care more about the laughter smiles, smiles, and fun, then you do about how outsiders see you.
So what is weird? What is out of the ordinary for you? Do something most people may not choose to do or go where others would not go. By the time I had my little girl, and she was 3, I can’t tell you how many times she would want to paint my toenails on a Saturday night. Some of you may say, “what’s weird about that?” Did you ever wear sandals to church the following morning? Have you ever given your teenagers some spraypaint and a mask and allow them to go crazy on their walls in their room? Have ever had a junker car and let them paint it?
Go out to eat at places you have never been to before. Are you into rock-n-roll? Go to a ballet. Take your kids to a museum if that is rare. One thing that we liked to do is to locate where the food trucks would hang out in a given town to find something new. Do charitable projects with your kids. Giving and doing for others together is awesome. Google and research things to do within a 30mile radius of the house. I use to take to my kids to weird places for photoshoots…like at a graffiti wall, railroad stations, and bridges.
One thing that several of my adult friends found unusual about me as a dad was my encouragement of my kids’ self-expression. Many fathers want to control so many things about their kids’ lives. In many cases, I believe it is a concern on how they (the fathers) are perceived by others and not a fear of their children being judged. With everything, it must be kept in due bounds, but a hairstyle, clothing choice, and art can be a very freeing thing for them to find out who they are. That being said, none of my kids overdid it. My buddies that had much more strict guidelines found their kids testing and destroying boundaries. As a matter of fact, the tighter they squeezed, the worse behaved their kids were.
Growing up has a lot of pressure these days. Kids have to let off that pressure somehow. Finding healthy outlets for them, being okay with a mess or controlled stupidity lets them know “I get it. Go for it”. One time my oldest son was playing bass in a talent show with a drummer friend of his. My son had a couple of basses, so when the drum solo part came up, he took his bass off and threw it across the stage to a friend waiting behind the skirt of the curtain. Luckily, the kid caught it. My son grabbed another bass and came back in shredding. When he did it, everyone in the crowd was like “whoa”. I was like “yes…..rock on”. His jazz teacher found me a few days later and told me that he had never seen a kid so “free” in a performance.
My second boy is a daredevil that likes to jump off things like bridges, cliffs, climb high stuff, etc. My daughter is an amazing judo and jiu-jitsu fighter. They are also talented artists. One day, a cowboy friend of mine said, “I can’t believe you let your boy do all those stunts”. I laughed at my friend and reminded him, “you let your boys ride bulls”. Kids and teens can encounter some confusing and frustrating times. I’m not advocating fighting, stunts, or throwing musical instruments, but they have to have an outlet. Be a part of that. Encourage the unusual and for them to be different. That along with the suggestions earlier in this post can have some amazing results for your kids.
Finally, learn to laugh. You have to laugh at yourself, life, and yes…at each other. Show me a kid/teen that can laugh at themselves and okay when others laugh, I will show you a pretty solid kid. The same thing goes for dads. Drop the egos. Drop the concerns about outsiders perception of you. Laughing with my kids was, and still is my favorite thing to do. Love life. Express yourself and encourage your kids to do the same. Be the best dad possible.