Why I’m Teaching my Kids all about Passing on Good Habits
You want to pass on your good habits, don’t you? And in turn, reject or minimise the bad? But how do you do it? And is it even worth it at a time where everything is ‘permissible and beneficial’?
This is a post about something dear to my heart: setting a good example for your kids in all things in life. So how do you pass good habits on to your son.
Is there a sweet spot between being a lazy slob and a Spartan warrior? And why am I going to talk about ‘The Sins of the Father’? Keep reading and I’ll tell you.
Hollywood movies and graphic novels aside, being a Spartan wasn’t much fun. Spartan society was wholly focused on one thing: the complete militarisation of a nation. The result was that life kinda sucked. Yes, Spartans were bad asses but the life of an ordinary, run-of-the-mill warrior was a bit miserable.
Which is why I’m not desperate to emulate everything that they stood for.
But (and this is a big one), I’m equally sure that the lazy, beer swilling, Netflix watching, man-child Dads that the media crave us to emulate is the other side of the extreme.
Is it not better to find the sweet spot between these two sides? To bask in the fertile valley between these two craggy peaks?
The Sins of the Father
Ever since I called the Dad Bod ‘a disease’, I’ve expounded the value of setting a good example for your kids.
How can you expect your children to embrace healthy eating, exercise, respectful relationships, faith, discipline and compassion if you don’t practise those things yourself?
This reminded my of a verse from the Bible which reads:
“The children will be punished for the sin of their fathers, even to the third and fourth generation.”
When these words were written, they referred to worshipping gods that were not the Israelite God. The rub was that changing the good habit (worshipping Almighty Yahweh) to the to the bad (child sacrifice loving Molech) was easy. Changing it back was not.
The point is this: your bad habits will run the colours of your family right through into your great grandchildren. Think about what you see around you – maybe even in your own life. Bad habits die hard.
I’m writing this post while on vacation. I was in a local town with my own father and son. Taking the time to notice, I looked around and was surprised at the number of overweight families walking around: families that include an overweight dad, mum and kids.
Not so long ago, the ‘fat kid’ in school was an oddity, teased mercilessly. What about now?
Today I saw a dad who was so overweight he looked at death’s door. His wife wasn’t far behind him. What hope do his kids have for a healthy life for themselves, let alone a future father and grandfather?
What about male-feminist Dads who teach their sons that all men are secretly evil and are trying to oppress women. The same men obstruct their daughter’s natural feminine instincts and attractions or force them into STEM careers against their will.
Those Dads will happily expound the detail of the wage gap without a thought to the male mental health and suicide epidemic our generation is seeing.
Right from an early stage in your journey as a Dad, know this: Your own habits and values will have a deep impact on the way your own children will grow up.
Is now not a good time to choose what you focus on? Where will your standards and values lie? And will they be based on sound morals, facts, reality and with a will to create a newer, better generation than before?
Or will you focus on feelings, ‘protecting’ your kids and preventing them from coming into contact with wrongthink?
Will you pass your good habits, your upright values on to your kids? Will you celebrate male energy and identity as well as feminine beauty and charm?
If not, what are the consequences? The Biblical saying is clear – the children will pay the price of your misdeeds to the third or fourth generation. That’s your great or great-great grandchildren. Forge good habits now or your bad ones will be your legacy for over a hundred years.
Does that mean you become the epitome of a disciplinarian – constantly forcing your kids to higher levels of achievement? Is that going to make them love and respect you?
What if you took the opposite path and just let them get on with it? Would they grow up to be adults that benefited society and made you proud?
Getting Rid of Bad Habits – Before You Become a Dad
When I was at University, I came across a bizarre groupthink – that anything which was done out of habit was bad but if you truly ‘felt’ what your were doing, that was better.
I openly challenged this idea with friends – how could everything that is done habitually be bad for you? Of course, there are bad habits and certain behaviours that you would want to discourage like pornography or heavy drinking.
Smiling at shop assistants (try this – I guarantee it will improve both your days)
Are these good or bad habits to get into? What if you did them out of habit rather then just ‘feeling it in the moment’?
I don’t normally write for men who aren’t fathers but what I want to do here is give you fair warning:
The time to build good habits is not when you’re a Dad. By that time it’s probably too late to make major changes to your lifestyle. Some manage it, most don’t.
Instead, your early to mid-twenties are the most formative years you will have.
The worst thing you can do is squander those years on bad or self destructive habits instead of building your body, mind and ability to support a family.
I’ve got plenty of friends who had a ball in their twenties – travel, living the student lifestyle, chilling over summer break. But they amounted to nothing – almost to a man. Now they are childless, woman-less, friendless or all three.
Hardly something to aspire to.
Change bad habits before you become a father. It’s worth putting the work in ahead of time.
Minimise your Shortcomings
You’re always going to be flawed – it’s part of the human condition. But you can be better than you are today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.
Fatherhood isn’t the point at which you get to slacken off in life, chill out, watch TV and get a Dad Bod. Instead it’s the time you should be hitting the high notes of your life: Physically, mentally, spiritually.
And you should be working hard to pass on those good habits to your sons. If you don’t teach and influence them, who will?
P.S. If you liked this short essay, you’ll definitely enjoy my book. Buy it here.