Written By Jamie Day
Gosh, where do I start? Well, there’s all the cliché things that every father has an unwritten duty to teach their children: I’m talking about the classics such as teaching my daughter Edie, who’s 4, to learn to ride her bike without stabilisers, swim without armbands and know that 4am is not a good time to tell me she needs a wee. Then there’s my son Arlo, who’s 18 months, who I’d better teach how to kick a football properly sometime soon or that lucrative contract from Manchester United just won’t happen.
I kid of course, although Edie’s 4am wake up calls really do need to be addressed.
In all seriousness, there are qualities that I really do want to ensure my children know about, but the thing is, the more I think about it, and being at the age they are right now, they already possess such qualities in abundance. You see, they were born with them. Children enter this crazy world that’s riddled with issues, filled with a beautiful purity, happiness and innocence, where they don’t judge those around them, they don’t hate anything (ok, maybe they hate sleeping through the night) and they have a wondrous sense of exploration and an appetite to learn. Perhaps as children grow, and their minds fill with more information that’s guided by varying influences, sadly such natural qualities are often diminished or lost altogether.
So, as my children grow, and they begin to learn about the differences in religion, race, gender, relationships and society, I want to teach them to cling onto all that lovely goodness they were born with. I don’t really care if I can’t teach them to be a budding athlete or a genius mathematician, I simply want to teach them to be kind, be happy and never to judge another person by the colour of the skin, the faith they follow or for the person they love.
But how can I achieve all this with my children? Well, as a father, I’m all too aware that my children look to me for guidance in pretty much everything they do. They need me to show them what is safe, what is allowed, how they should behave and of course, how Netflix works. My behaviour, the words I say and my beliefs about the world in which they’re growing is passed onto them, and so I must ensure, as I always have, that everyone we meet is treated as an equal. I’m no fool (despite my silly bouffant hair) so clearly there will be obstacles along the way. Negative experiences, mixing with different people and things they pick up at school are all going to contribute to their thinking, and maybe there will come a time when they don’t want to listen to boring old dad anymore, and all I’ll be to them is a free taxi service, but whilst I do have some influence, I’d like to keep teaching them about kindness and respect.
If I can do that, then chances are Edie and Arlo will grow to be happy and considerate young people and I’ll know I’ve taught them well.
So that’s the important stuff taken care of, anyone got any advice on those 4am wake ups?!
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Images by Jamie Day