Twenty Things to Do in Your Thirties to Be a Happy Father for the Rest of Your Life.

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.” Anonymous

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys’.” Harmon Killebrew

“Before I got married, I had four theories about raising children; now, I have four children and no theories.” Modified from John Wilmot

Now, in my seventies, I can look back and think: how did all the years go? Being a busy cardiac surgeon, and having four kids, I have my own perspective on how to raise children. Here are my thoughts. BTW, I don’t tell other people how to live their lives. I write about what worked for me.

1. It’s good to decide ahead of time how many children the couple wants. We wanted to have ten, but settled on four.

2. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to find a sweet spot between professional duties, and how much time to spend rising kids.

3. Expose your kids to different areas of interest. Let them choose one they are passionate about. We decided on music and sports.

4. Sports are important, especially team sports.

5. Music widens your area of perception and increases your sensitivity to the world around.

6. They pick up on duplicity fast.

7. Make your own bed before you’ll ask them to make theirs. They still may not listen.

8. They’ll learn table manners from you. It’s the best way to show respect for your dining company.

9. Social skills will come from social interaction. They will apply what they’ve learned at home.

10. When you get older, they’ll treat you the same way you’ve treated your parents.

11. If something’s not right between you and your spouse, they will sense it quicker than you think.

12. The rivalry between siblings is tense. It’s even more pronounced between twins.

13. Don’t ever badmouth your children, particularly behind their back. They’ll find out sooner, or later. Your friends will hate you, and you make your enemies happy. Same with your friends, if you denigrate them at home.

14. Take them to your work. Even when you’ll have to pick them up from the operating room floor after they faint.

15. Don’t automatically think that they’ll be ashamed of your funny name and foreign accent. At the young age, they may even think it’s an acceptable dialect.

16. If you have a trophy in an exotic sport, be proud and show it to them. Even when they initially don’t understand why you played it.

17. Lock the door to your bedroom during the sensitive moments. You’ll never forgive yourself, and they will be grossed out.

18. Show them the place you’re born. And introduce to your childhood friends. They need to know there was a life before they were born.

19. Never say anything bad about their mother, but above all, praise her cooking.

20. Keep reminding them when Father’s Day is on a calendar. Eventually, they’ll remember.

Here’s your bonus : In the end, they’ll do their own thing. I’ve seen so many good kids coming from dysfunctional families, and troubled heirs in prominent and affluent blue-bloodied lines. But it doesn’t hurt to try. By the end, you’ll feel much better.


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