A Dad Worth?
by Dan Coulter, Coulter Video, July 2004
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I heard a
discussion about a dad's worth the other day as I was radio
channel surfing in my car. Two talk show hosts were hotly
debating some comments made by actress Nicole Kidman. The topic:
does a rich single mom have anything to complain about? The
female host said that even a famous, wealthy single mom can have
it tough raising kids. The macho male host wasn't buying it.
"Come on, she's got jillions of dollars! She can buy anything
He might have been more persuasive if he'd pointed out that many
divorced dads are devoted to their kids and not all single moms
are raising kids alone. But the argument that you could buy what
a dad does makes this guy sound pretty clueless.
Or maybe it says something sad about his relationship with his
A dad who shows his kids he cares about them can be one of the
most powerful influences in their lives. This is especially true
of kids with special challenges, such as Asperger Syndrome.
Dads are incredible role models. Who hasn't been proud - or
mortified -- to see your child copy something you do? You're
teaching even when you're not trying. And dads who put real
effort into raising their kids get the biggest rewards.
I think the dads who have the most impact are the ones who find
ways to really enjoy being with their kids - even kids with
problems. From the other side of the picture, kids who enjoy
being with their dads are much more eager to listen to them and
to try and make their dads proud as they grow up.
Here are a few things I've seen great dads do that can't be
First, these dads let their faces light up every time they see
their child and show him it's a treat to see him. This makes a
son or daughter feel really special - like an injection of
self-worth. And there's nothing like self-worth to combat
negative influences outside your home. If your child feels great
being with you, doing things together is more like recreation
than obligation. As a bonus, you're likely to wind up having
more fun and finding ways to spend more time with your kids.
Second, these dads kick into "patient gear" whenever they deal
with their kids. It's easy to forget that talking isn't teaching
and hearing something once doesn't mean a kid understands and
the ins and outs of what you're talking about. Taking the time
to understand how much your child is absorbing of what you're
saying can really help him learn. Some kids don't pick up social
skills intuitively, just by observing others. If this is your
child, you have to figure out how to help him understand. As a
dad, you need to be like the test pilots in Tom Wolfe's book,
"The Right Stuff." If a test pilot's plane didn't perform as
predicted and the normal procedures didn't work, he'd try
something new, and something else new, and something else, until
he found something that worked. You can do the same thing and
you don't even need to worry about a parachute.
Third, these dads use consistent, measured discipline and lots
of positive reinforcement. Even if their child throws a tantrum
in public, they don't let embarrassment tempt them into
overreacting verbally or physically. Who doesn't respect a dad
who is calm and patient with a child having a meltdown? Who
hasn't seen a child glow from a dad's compliments? These dads
teach a child what it means to be fair - and how to get the best
out of people with praise.
Fourth, these dads look at things from their kids' point of
view. They see that kids don't always understand when dad's had
a hard day. These dads learn to leave problems at the door and
let good times with their families bring up their spirits.
These are the dads I admire and try to be like.
The bottom line: every contact with your son or daughter is an
opportunity. The way they feel about you the rest of their lives
depends on the countless little interactions between the two of
you every day. If you treat every contact with your child as one
he could remember forever, you'll be the dad you really want to
That can't be measured in dollars. And, as a dad, it's kind of
nice to know you're priceless.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter is the writer/producer of the
newly released video: "ASPERGER SYNDROME DAD: Becoming An Even
Better Father To Your Child With AS." You can find additional
articles on his website at:
Copyright 2004 Dan Coulter Used By Permission All Rights
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