So your best buddy just became a dad, and you’re looking for that special guy-centric something to commemorate the monumental event. Of course, you could go with one of the classic standbys: a box of cigars, a six-pack of beer, or something else to dull that vague sense of foreboding. Instead, maybe you should try something that will actually help your buddy successfully navigate his new-found responsibility, rather than blunder through it blindly.
Stumped? Puzzle no more. I’ve got just the answer: Treion Muller’s new secrets-of-fatherhood handbook: Dad Rules: A Simple Manual for a Complex Job.
Treion (pronounced “tree-on”) nails the requirements for this tricky genre geared toward an often reluctant audience:
- Blissfully short: It’s 81 quick pearls of wisdom, each of which fit easily on a single page in big type no less.
- Simple to understand: Each nugget of advice is easily digested. No big words. No fancy concepts — unless you count the occasional pithy quote from some old dead wise person, but those are optional.
- Room for disagreement: Treion acknowledges that your mileage may vary. He grants you license to skip the rules that you feel don’t apply or that you just plain don’t like. It’s still handy to have them around for reference, though. That way, you can skulk back and adopt them when you realize you were wrong...
- No required reading order: Skip around. Read one rule here, one rule there. Re-read a handful from time to time. They’re largely independent, and cross-referenced when related.
- Immediately actionable: That’s the best part. You can read a simple rule, take it to heart, and go make it happen with your kids right away. No assembly required.
FamZoo dads (and moms!) will dig Dad Rules because it shares a number of core principles that FamZoo also holds dear. Here are just a few I jotted down along the way:
- Every family is different. Pick the “best” practices that work for yours. Both FamZoo and Dad Rules offer a toolbox of potential solutions culled from the experiences of everyday parents, or as Treion puts it, “the combined wisdom of many dads who have faced similar challenges and survived.” Treion echoes the experience I’ve had just within my own family and underscores why we’ve worked so hard to keep FamZoo so flexible: “Each child is different. What works for one may not work for another.”
- Maintain consistency between your thoughts, words, and actions. One of those pithy quotes Treion passes along is this gem from Gandhi: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” It feels so right and so good when you actually say what you’re truly thinking and, further, when you actually do what you say. You know you should be a good dad. You say you want to be a good dad. Dad Rules helps you do just that. Similarly, in our life skills niche: You know you should teach your child good money habits. You say you want to teach your child good money habits. FamZoo helps you do just that. Following through effectively does indeed bring great happiness.
- Mastering basic life skills requires practice. In Rule 70, Treion reminds us: “There are some basic skills that every functional human being, including your children, should know how to do. Don’t assume your kids will just learn how to do these things by osmosis.” Yes, it’s so easy to take for granted what we already know — to forget the process that got us to that level of understanding. Don’t leave your kids to struggle through learning the hard way when the stakes are higher. Be an explicit life skills mentor. That’s why the FamZoo tag line is: “Preparing kids for the wild.”
So what are some of the rules? It was tough to choose favorites, but I picked out 5 that really resonated for me:
Rule 44: The answer to, “Dad, can I show you something?” is always, “Yes!”
This question is the precursor to some of the greatest moments in your life. Don’t miss out. And, remember, one of the most valuable things you can give your child is your undivided attention.
Rule 45: If you feel the urge to lecture, stop and think about it first.
Kids learn by doing, not lecture. ’Nuff said.
Rule 55: Raise children, not clones of you.
It’s OK to reinforce your core values, but embrace and encourage your child’s natural diversity along the way.
Rule 68: Establish a healthy dose of family traditions.
Traditions are such a key part of the family fabric. And, I agree with Treion when he says "the best traditions are the ones that involve serving others.”
Rule 70: Make your kids work for their rewards.
I call this is the “anti-entitlement” rule. In a world of excess and limitless material possessions, our children are sometimes victims of overindulgence and feelings of entitlement. “I want” and “I get” are often synonymous. They ask, and we give. Beware! This seemingly innocent practice just feeds into an already growing culture of entitlement. If you love your children, make them work for their rewards.
That rounds out my top 5 favorite dad rules. I’m sure you’ll find a bunch that hit home with you and your family. You’ll also undoubtedly find a handful that will give you pause and make you think: “Man, I really need to start doing that with my kids!” I did, and I’m no spring chicken when it comes to the fatherhood gig.
So, if you have a buddy who is taking the plunge into parenthood, grab him a copy. He’ll appreciate it. Who knows? Someday Dad Rules may even unseat beer as the most popular baby shower present for dads. Well, OK, no reason you can’t get him both. I suspect they go pretty well together.