I have been trained as a military officer, pilot, and engineer, but not as a writer. My ideas on 'dadhood' are experiential. I'm not a Ph.D or M.D.-- I'm just a guy who cares about kids, families, and communities. Writing decent articles regarding fatherhood becomes a challenge at times, like now, when multitasking seems everlasting.
I rarely take passages from my book to write my articles. I want to be timely and deliver as much information as possible. But I’m including a passage from my book in this article for three reasons.
- I need a ‘brain break’.
- I want to promote my book since we are just three weeks from Father’s Day.
- Most importantly, wanting to learn can be trained into your kids!
Please read this excerpt from “The Power of Dadhood: Become the Father Your Children Need”, in Chapter 10 “Building Strong Children”.
“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.” — Thomas H. Huxley
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” — Proverb
These quotes are true whether your child is three or thirty. When it comes to some things you want your children to learn, like walking, potty training, or riding a bike, you just have to wait until they are ready.
Occasionally, there is a clash between the truth of this philosophy and the practicality of the situation.
If your child isn’t interested in school, it’s not likely he or she will do well. You can take your children to school, but you can’t make them learn.
It can be a battle because you just can’t let them fall behind.
As in many things, early preventive measures are better than searching for a cure later on. The preventive measures in this case involve opening your children’s eyes early on to adventures and wonders, such as a trip to the zoo, reading to them regularly, or vacations to interesting places. These will open their horizons and stimulate their natural curiosities.
Early experiences and an environment of learning have a great impact on the brain of a child. Canyons carved by rivers first took shape from the paths of raindrops that fell millions of years ago. The networks of the brain act in a similar way. Early impressions will be marked deeply into the neural networks of a child’s brain. Experiences can cause a path to pleasure or a path to pain. The next stimulation will take the paths of least resistance in the brain.
Too much negative stimulation will cause a path that always leads to pain, and then that path will be blocked to avoid the pain. Positive stimulation will lead to pleasure and a desire to continue. Your goal as a Dad is to create an environment of learning that is fun and positively stimulating and that leads to a craving for knowledge, exploration, and discovery.
“Just as eating against one’s will is injurious to health, so studying without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in.”
—Leonardo da Vinci
Teaching your children how to think as opposed to what to think is a priceless gift they can use forever in their education and life in general. Just as it is more important to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish, a child with the ability to think can face the world with more courage and less vulnerability.
From the youngest ages, challenge them often with riddles or simple questions. Get them to a place where they enjoy solving puzzles. Help them learn how to find answers and where to go to learn more about something that fascinates them.
You are hurting your children’s problem-solving skills when you do their homework for them. Certainly you should help them understand principles and lessons, but they must prove they can solve or analyze problems on their own. What good is it if they get an A on “your” homework? They learn nothing, and it sends them all the wrong signals.
Thanks for reading my blog “Helping Fathers to be Dads” and remember your dads on Father’s Day, June 21st!