When I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a dad. I didn’t have a particular age or time in mind, and even though I didn’t spend a copious amount of time thinking about it, I always knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. Before my kids were born, I had my own preconceived misconceptions about what it meant to be a dad. I had a pretty good example of my own father, but I know not everyone can say the same about their dads. What I didn’t know were the powerful life lessons my kids would ultimately teach me. I had no idea that my children were born so that they could teach me, not the other way around.

I’ve heard people say that kids are the best teachers. After having two myself, I completely agree. The lessons I have learned from my children are not teachable by anyone else. They are the type of lessons that need to be learned by experience. But while kids might be great teachers, the most important thing we can do is to be great listeners and responders. And it starts with working on the inner makings of who we are as fathers. Here are three things my kids have taught me over the years.

  1. You don’t know crap.

Before my kids came along, I considered myself to be pretty wise. I thought I knew about a lot of things. Boy, was I wrong. If my kids have taught me anything at all, it’s that I didn’t know crap. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for the lack of information I had. The birth of my children was a true wake up call.

Right off the bat, when my first child was born, I thought I knew what love was. I was wrong. My whole life had been filled with love up until this point. I loved my parents, my wife, my friends and my relatives. I had love for anyone who was close to me. But the kind of love I had for my daughter the first time I held her proved that none of that love even came remotely close to the love I felt for her.

That’s not to say I don’t love those around me. But it was a different type of love that I had never felt before. One that was so selfless I felt like I could give me own life to protect hers and actually mean it. From that day forward, I knew I would never be the same.

After the initial shock of the most intense love I had ever felt set it, I was once again reminded that I didn’t know crap when we brought her home from the hospital. I knew babies needed a lot of attention, but I didn’t know it was around the clock. Lucky for me, my wife had an innate sense within her when it came to being a great mother. I, on the other hand, flopped around like a fish out of water.

As my child began to grow, I was once again reminded that I didn’t know crap. Like, I didn’t know how to protect her heart from getting broken all the time. I wanted to keep her little heart in my hands at all times and protect her innocence. I wanted to prevent her from being bullied on the playground. I wanted to be there the first time another kid was mean to her. I wanted to protect her from all things that would ever make her cry. But once again, I have no idea how to do that.

The best thing we can do for our kids is to give them the confidence of being there for them, even if we don’t know the answers to all of life’s tough questions. I’m confident that when my kids come to me with tough questions, I will have the strength to do what they need me to, even if I have no idea what I’m doing. The important thing is not to pretend like you know everything. It’s to make sure your kids know that you are going to be there for them no matter what. Everything else will fall in place.

  1. Kids keep you honest.

Your kids are always watching and listening, even when you think they’re not. Kids are like sponges. They absorb everything they see and hear, including when we have a bad moment and let a swear word slip out. They always seem to repeat it at just the right time, like in the middle of school or to a complete stranger who now thinks you’re walking around swearing at your child all the time.

Kids teach us to be honest. They teach us to be better people even when no one is watching because let’s be honest, kids are always watching. Dads, your sons want to be just like you. You’re the example they see for everything in life. From you, they learn how to use the bathroom, how to put on a tie, and how to treat a woman. If you’re a dad to daughters like I am, your job is equally as important. You become the standard to which your daughter will hold all men to in her life. If she sees you open the car door for her mother or speak to her kindly, she will expect the same from a mate one day. If she sees you treating her mother and those around you poorly, she will expect the same treatment.

Kids have an incredible ability to make us want to become the best version of ourselves. And although that’s something you should want to do for yourself even without kids, having them around sure makes it real. When another life is dependent on the things you do and say, you become more aware of your character. Your actions have the ability to influence your child’s future. One of the greatest compliments I hear is when sons tell their dads that they want to be just like them. But dads, your job is to mold, shape and prepare your little ones to be better than you.

  1. It’s never too late to make positive changes in your life.

I realize I’m one of the luckiest men in the world because I had a great dad to pave the way for me. Not everyone has that. I know men who were blessed with children who choose not to be in their lives. And on the other hand, I know men who are not biologically a father, but they are the best dads I’ve ever seen. The one thing that’s true about having children is that it’s never too late to make positive changes in your life to be the man they need you to be.

Whether you’re 18 or 40, it’s never too late to learn how to be a good father even if you never had a good example to follow. All you need is a desire to become a better person. For some men, it takes the birth of their first child to get things right, and that’s OK. The important thing is you’re taking those steps when you could be sitting around making excuses. There is never a wrong time to invest in yourself for the sake of your children, even if they aren’t even born yet.

The one thing I’ve learned in life is that it’s never OK to blame others for your past, present or future life. Others may have influenced you, but it doesn’t mean that history has to repeat itself. You are in control of your life and your decisions. If you had a bad childhood experience with your father, it doesn’t mean you have to be just like him. You have the power to change.

Pioneer Purpose is a 12 step program that shows you how to reach your ultimate potential. The program is designed for anyone who wants to better themselves. Dads, this is your chance to step up to the plate. Even if you’re an awesome dad but want to make some improvements in other areas of your life, Pioneer Purpose can help you with that. Much like your kids, we show you how to dig deep inside to find out what your true calling is. For me, it took the birth of my children before I really understood that my presence here on Earth is far more influential to my kids than I once realized. I want to make sure they remember me as the best man I can be, and I know that Pioneer Purpose can help you do the same.

Daniel Budzinski

Author Daniel Budzinski

Driven to help people discover their dreams & purpose in life.

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