1. My parents were right – They told me to enjoy the time I had with no responsibility, because once responsibility shows up it never leaves. From the very moment that my first child was born some small, internal thing in me changed. I transformed from worry-free, fun guy to a semi-anxious, responsible man. Though being a parent has been unfathomably rewarding, it has also been unexpectedly challenging and draining. My parents told me that when your children arrive, your time and energy disappear. They were right.
2. Have fun wherever you are – For my daughter, if music plays at anytime, in anyplace, it is time to stop the current project and start dancing. Hey, she knows how to party. By the time we get to adulthood, we have been socialized to behave properly at all times. Yes, there is an appropriate time and place for any behaviors, but that does not mean that we should not seize the moment when it occurs. My children have taught me to enjoy the little things. The simple pleasures are the best ones.
3. Be absolutely fearless – As a parent, at least some small fraction of your job is to be appropriately vigilant for your child who has very little sense of caution. Part of being a parent is guiding your kids away from potential danger. Every know and then, you drop your guard and your child does something fairly reckless. Every now and then, it actually works. Children teach you that, occasionally, you have to take a risk if you want to succeed. It probably was not a good idea to run and slide across a freshly waxed floor in socks, but the look of accomplishment that my daughter gave after she did it, made the risk worth the reward.
4. Use your imagination – Every moment is different for children. They have not forgotten how to dream big yet. One minute, my little girl is a cat, the next she is a dragon. We have to learn to think outside of the box like kids do. They live in a world of infinite possibilities. It is no coincidence that the most prolific inventors are under the age of 30. They are just naive enough to think that anything can work.
5. Keep your innocence – Because people have not let them down, children always expect the best of others. They see people as the best incarnation of themselves. They see the light and goodness in people instead of the bad. My children have taught me to be optimistic again.
6. Have a short memory – One of the most unique and useful traits of children is their short memory. If they fall and hurt themselves, by the time the dust has settled, they are playing again. If their friend hurts their feelings, the next day, they are friends again. This attitude is applicable in all aspects of life. How much could we accomplish if we let go of grudges and pain, and worked towards common goals?
7. Almost anything can be solved by a small bowl of ice cream – Seriously, almost anything.
8. What you do is just as important as what you say – Kids notice everything. Anything that you say had better have a related action, because your kids will know if your words and actions do not match. They will challenge your hypocrisy. And, children inevitably model themselves after you, so you have to always behave in the manner that you would want them to behave.
9. Have integrity – Children tell the brutal, honest truth and they expect the truth from you about everything. If you do not follow through on your word, they will tell you quickly and loudly. So, you have to be as candid and as exacting and candid with your explanations to them as possible.