The 25 Greatest Things I’ve Learned About Being a Dad, in My Short Experience

25 greatest lessons on being a dad juanofwords
For Father’s Day this year I want to celebrate my own father, and father’s everywhere for that matter, by sharing a couple of the things that I have learned along the way in this journey we call parenting. ¡Feliz Día de los Padres!

25. Parenting is hard work.

It is.  No one ever prepares you for that either.  And the older they get the bigger their problems can get.  There will be days when you want to just ask why.  Why me!?  Hang in there.  It gets better.

24. Children hear and see everything.

They do!  I can’t tell you how many times Edgar has repeated something we’ve said to each other in the car, ya saben en confianza, almost always at the most inappropriate of times.  We couldn’t do anything else besides laugh… nervously.  Repeat after me.  You are not above telling your kids “you better not repeat this to anybody!”

23. I am GREAT at investigating and getting to the bottom of things!

Ask anyone.  They’ll tell you I am a regular Sherlock Holmes when it comes to snooping around, eavesdropping, acting aloof, fishing for information, and Anjelica’s favorite by far, playing 21 questions.  I have also mastered the art of standing quietly in a dark spot without making a single sound or finding the perfect places to hear and not be seen.  I should add that to my Linkedin account!

22. Yelling at the top of your lungs can feel really AMAZING!

Not necessarily at the kids, although sometimes one has to do what one has to do.  Yelling at the top of your lungs can be a huge release.  I can’t say that this is exclusive to parenting because I have always been a yeller when I get mad.  I get mad and I get loud.  It’s just my nature.

21. It can also lead to some pretty painful headaches.

Although yelling too loudly and too often can lead to wrinkles at the top of your forehead and throbbing pain inside of your skull.  You have to find that right balance between too much yelling and just enough.

20. Love leads to silliness.

I used to be much more serious I remember.  Now.  Not so much.

19. You are always a hero in your kid’s eyes.

Regardless of how awful you might be at playing sports, drawing, coloring, cooking, driving, etc., etc., when you look into your child’s eyes your reflection is always strong, courageous and beautiful.  Learn to see yourself through their eyes.  And then hold on to that reflection because it won’t be there forever.

18. Love means sometimes giving in when you really don’t want to.

The petty things in life aren’t really all that important I’ve learned.

17. Turning into your parents is not really all that bad.

And you’ll actually be grateful for all the times they yelled at you, pointed out your mistakes, made you cry, and forbade you from doing something you really wanted to do.  You’ll aspire to do half the job your parents did, if you’re lucky.

16. Every parent does the best job they possibly can.

You’ll understand the mistakes.  You will make your own mistakes and see things through a new light.

15. Forgiveness does heal old wounds.

Eventually, if you’re lucky, you will find it in your heart to forgive the mistakes that were made during your childhood.  It’s good for your soul.

14. No parent is perfect.

Making this realization is probably one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned.  Although that doesn’t mean we should strive for mediocracy.  You live and you learn.  And then you try harder.

13. Men do cry.

Contrary to what we might have been told, letting out a couple of tears doesn’t make us any less men.  Los hombres tambiėn lloran.  I learned that from my own father.

12. Principles do matter!

Much more than we ever imagined when our parents used to tell us “it’s the principle of the matter.”  FYI: values are pretty important too.

11. Nothing is beneath you when it comes to putting food on the table.

My mother used to sell tortillas, tamales, tacos, whatever she could get her hands on, in order to put food on the table.  My dad spent hours, days, months, years, working in the hot sun, earning minimum wage or less sometimes to make sure we never went without.  We are capable of the same trabajando honradamente.  

10. Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest impact.

Time is the single most important thing you can give a child.  The big gifts and toys al rato están tirados por ahí.  Name brands are pretty inconsequential too.

9. Happy tears do exist!

And when you cry happy tears your heart and soul rejoice.

8. Sometimes words get in the way.

I’ve learned that hugs are the universal language for showing you care.  Especially when you can’t find the right words to express what you really want to say.

7. Yelling is not always the answer.

There’s a dicho for this – se atrapan más moscas con miel que con vinagre.  Yup, basically.  That sums it up.

6. Growing up doesn’t mean growing out of fun.

You’re never too old to have a little fun.  Life gets in the way a lot of times with work, responsibilities, bills, bills and more bills, but don’t ever stop embracing your inner dork.  He becomes more and more important as the years go by.  Be a payaso and be proud.

5. Faith can move entire mountains.

I skipped a lot of my catechism classes as a teenager.  I was expelled from my confirmation classes.  I would think about how much my knees were hurting when my mother would make us rezar el rosario with her.  But now, I am a man of faith.  I believe in a higher power.  I pray.  I ask for guidance.  And in darkest hours, I hope that my faith is strong enough to pull me through.

4. A sacrifice is not always a sacrifice.

My mother used to always say con que ustedes tengan que comer yo estoy bien.  I’m almost certain there were times her and my father’s stomachs were hungry and growling with desperation, but they never let us know.  At some point you decide that you will volunteer for pain, heartache, discomfort, danger, and so many other things so long as your kids don’t have to experience the same.

3. Respect is earned not demanded.

“Because I said so!” will only take you so far.  Humility, patience, and more patience, are much more effective tools for dealing with difficult situations.

2. I am much more capable of giving love than I ever imagined.

Love has a funny way of catching up to you.  It will make you grow as a person.  It will make you stronger.  It will make you more confident.  It will make you appreciate and accept yourself as you are.  And eventually it will make you wiser.

1. A child’s love is unconditional.

And finally the biggest lesson I have learned so far is that your child’s love is unconditional.  Regardless of how many mistakes you make along the way, they will always see you as their parent. And love you.  They will always be your children in your own eyes and heart.

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