Often we hear the phrase, “gotta take care of number one.” And it is true— you do have to take care of yourself first. It is the foundation of being self-reliant.
However there is a flip side to this and that is, if you always put yourself first in everything, you are selfish, self-centered and not someone who is fun to be around.
So I think the rule is—take care of your personal needs, look after yourself, but when it comes to the needs of others, apply the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
How does all this involve dadding? Well, the first place in life where being second is necessary is with your kids. In other words, your kids come first. OK I am not suggesting that they get their way all the time, or that you jump anytime they want something. What I am saying is that their need for you as their dad is fulfilled before you fill your own needs. And that can be demanding, but it has to be so.
I always say that a dad is the most important man in a kid’s life. When the kid needs support, advice, comfort, or direction from his or her dad, the dad stops watching TV, stops his working on-line, stops dealing with emails, and gives the kid the support, advice, comfort and direction he or she needs.
So, now you are red in the face with anger thinking: I do not want to spoil my kids! I am not going to always stop everything anytime they say they want something. Well cool down. I am not saying that you need to immediately respond to each and every request that your kid makes. On the contrary, that would spoil your kid.
What I am saying is that you need to let your children know that you are always there for them. When and if necessary, you will drop everything to come to their side. You will put them first when they really need you. You are their backstop and downfield blocker, (to draw on two sports metaphors). In short they can count on their dad.
It can be tough to give up taking care of number one for your kids. But it will pay off handsomely. You will give your kids the confidence that they are valued and important—especially to you—the most important man in their lives.