As we have expressed in other columns, our primary audience for this column is the young dad and father-to-be. Dads who have raised kids that are now in their teens have done the best they know how; they have the battle scars that reflect their wins and losses.
So have we. We look back on our fathering days with both dread and pride. It's a tough gig. Any father who says he had all the answers to every dilemma that arose during those turbulent and wonderful years is blowing a lot of hot air. Any man who approached fatherhood as a drill instructor, claiming that his kids never gave him any lip, well we wish him and his recruits well.
To you young dads out there, those who are just starting out without any rulebook in your hand, we wish you all the best and advise you to follow your heart and trust your own instincts. Keep in mind that your family is not a platoon; your house is not a barracks. If you're not sure what you're doing — if your answer sheet is blank — that's great. Even if you think you have all the answers, believe us, you don't even know what the problems are yet. So keep an open mind, and nurture a parenthood partnership with your spouse.
You might already be experiencing the thrill of kids running to you and jumping into your arms when you come home from work. Savor those "attacks." There will be times when you come home bone tired and wish you could sneak in the front door and bypass all that "daddy's home" commotion. That time will race by, and one day you'll walk in the front door and wish you could catch a kid in your arms just one more time. One day, dad, sneaking in the front door won't be necessary unless you don't want the dog slobbering on your suit.
Almost every older father probably looks back at those magic moments imprinted on his memory and wishes he could relive maybe just a day or two when he was the funniest, smartest and greatest guy in the living room. We figure that's why men covet their role as a grandfather. They can experience a little of that commotion and accompanying adulation with the guarantee that serenity will soon return to the living room.
Young man new dad savor the sights, sounds, touches, tastes and smells that come with the privilege of catching your children when they come running and leap into your arms. Hold onto them. Be present in their young lives. Be interested and involved in what they like to do. Encourage their curiosity and open doors for them so that they can discover new things. Your time to influence your children, to hold onto them, to help them make wise choices is now. As they grow older, the world will teach them and test them.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.