This is not how I originally intended to start this article. But it points out the biggest mistake a man or woman can make, that is, having a child when you have no intention of nurturing him! Where were these parents while their children were committing this serious and dangerous crime? A child of six was in peril just by being out at this time of night, let alone being involved in a car jacking! Clearly, parenting is not the first priority of these parents, nor is it a priority at all.
The overwhelming majority of parents are not this reprehensibly inept or corrupt. But even decent parents make honest mistakes or get caught up in everyday life. Dads have their own set of predictable mistakes. Mistakes are never planned--but not planning is also a mistake.
The five fatherly mistakes I will point out most often come about by:
1) being too busy or too self-absorbed or,
2) simple ignorance or neglect of fatherly responsibilities.
The Five Most Common Mistakes Made by Fathers, in my humble opinion
The following are five mistakes all fathers make in varying degrees, at various times, usually because of being too busy. When done sparingly there will likely be no serious consequences. None are specific, tangible errors. They are symptomatic errors and if any are left unchecked, they could create unnecessary issues in the family.
When a father assumes everything and everyone is okay, without taking time to notice, he is shortchanging his family. Look into the faces of your children, look eye to eye. Ask them how they are doing and listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Hearing “I’m okay” does not get you off the hook. You must ‘listen’ with more than your ears, and 'look' as if you have eyes in the back of your head. And remember to talk with their mother and her concerns.
Forgetting what you have promised or even mentioned to your children is mistake number two. Never let your word become a useless utterance that is doubted or ignored! Kids remember what you say whether it is good or bad. This includes when punishments are announced but not carried through. You must keep your word and be consistent. Your word should be accepted and respected!
Believing you are a good dad when you do nothing to be a better dad is stealing your best from your children. I guarantee you there are things to learn—methods, approaches, techniques, and more which could make fathering easier, and your children more successful. Don’t be satisfied with being just an okay father. There is no rule that says fathers can't discuss fathering with each other. Read up!
4. Unintended Mentoring
You are always mentoring whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not. Your kids watch you closely, assuming what you do and how you do it are correct or, at least, acceptable. When you smoke, complain, throw trash out your window, are disrespectful to anyone, use profane language, etc. – you are mentoring in all the wrong ways. “Do as I say, not as I do” may sound like parenting, but it is the worst kind of parenting. Be aware of your actions around kids, especially your own, and be the example of how you would like your children to be as adults.
5. Mixed Priorities
There is only ONE ‘number one’ priority if you are a parent—it’s your children! That’s not to say you skip an important meeting at work to see your child's kindergarten play. But think about both your job responsibilities AND your child before you make an honest decision. Do this as a rule and you will find more time to be a dad, because ‘being there’ is the most important thing you can do for your kids!
If you are a father, I hope you have read this thoroughly and thought about how you parent your children with their mother. Reflection is one of the best characteristics of good dads! My book, The Power of Dadhood: Be the Father Your Child Needs, goes into much more detail and includes much more information about the need for and challenges of being a dad.