Parenting 101


We just returned home from our family vacation to Yosemite (more on that later). It was the kind of vacation where we all were together 24/7. It is the kind of vacation that I happen to look forward to and always end up loooooooving, even though I come home exhausted!

Anyhoo, as I was going through what felt like gazillions of emails (thanks to the sketchy WiFi service) there was a blog post waiting in my inbox from Leo Babauta of zen habits.

I always love seeing notes from him in my inbox. They feel so personal, as if they are written to me personally. Now, I know that’s not the case. They just feel so personal because zen habits ALWAYS strikes a chord (more like an orchestra!) with me. His blog posts inspire me in a big, big way because he writes simply and accessibly. You know, kind of like, “Yessssss, I CAN do that!”

Well, yesterday’s note (I mean post) was about fatherhood entitled, “The Tiny Guide to Being a Great Dad.”  I took the creative liberty and applied it to parenting because I found myself nodding along with ever word.

As with so many things in my life post-FBC, it came in my life at the precise moment when I  was ready for it. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do (Silver Lining)!



There are only three things you need to do to be a great dad (this is where I read “parent”):

1. Be there. If you’re in their lives, you rock. If you’re there when they scrape their knee, lose their first tooth, need someone to cry to, need help with their school project, want a partner for playing house or hide-and-seek … you are already being a great dad (parent). Be there, when they need you, and when they don’t.

2. Love them. They will know you love them, if you love them fully. It will show in your smile, in your touch, in your good-morning hugs. But also tell them on a regular basis. Infuse all your dad (parent) actions with love.

3. Be present. It’s great to be in the same room with them, but as much as you can afford to, be fully present with them. Shut off the mobile device, close the laptop, turn off the TV, and really pay attention. Listen to their long fragmented stories. Really watch when they want to show off their new wizard or ninja move.

That’s it. That’s all you need to be a great dad (parent). Well, there are some bonus moves, but those are just extensions of the above three.


If you want some specifics of how to do the above three rules, here are some ideas:

  1. Sing with them.
  2. Run around with them.
  3. Make believe with them.
  4. Read to them daily.
  5. Dance with them.
  6. Tell them corny jokes.
  7. Paint with them.
  8. Make videos where they are the star.
  9. Set a healthy example by being active and eating well.
  10. Show them how to be independent.
  11. Teach them critical thinking, rather than just obedience.
  12. Teach them how to teach themselves.
  13. Don’t nag.
  14. Don’t be overprotective.
  15. Show them you’re proud of them.
  16. Let them make mistakes.
  17. When they get hurt, use that moment to teach them how to deal with pain.
  18. Show interest in what they’re interested in, and don’t make it seem trivial.
  19. Show them how to work passionately.
  20. Spend some quiet cuddly time with them.
  21. Make them pancakes with faces.
  22. Have Nerf dart gun fights.
  23. Play board games.
  24. Take them on hikes.
  25. Play sports with them.
  26. Show them how to use a knife.
  27. Be honest.
  28. Honor your commitments.
  29. Love your wife, and treat her with respect.
  30. Be compassionate to others, and them.
  31. Be happy with yourself.

Leave a comment


  1. Carrie says

    This post literally made me cry. Parenting is the most joyful, challenging, life changing experience. Sometimes when we set boundaries, have a digital "holiday", or decide we are not ready for them to experience things yet the wrath can make it so hard to stick to our guns. But when they are truly loved, encouraged and listened to they seem to always come back around…yet there is no guidebook, they are born with their own destiny and all I can hope for is I teach them to love themselves, make good choices in the face of bad ones, have healthy and loving relationships with others in their lifetime. I think those of us that have faced the thought of them growing up without us sometimes have a harder time letting go. But your post reminded me that is NOT their reality, and fostering independence is as important as every hug and snuggle! You are so inspiring….and your children are sooooooo lucky to have you as their mama!!!! Xoxo

  2. E.B. says

    Oh, how this has reminded me of my much-loved and very, very much-missed Dad. Every Sunday, rain or shine, he made breakfast for my Mom and me and would draw a catsup smiley face on the scrambled eggs. This post brought back some wonderful memories of two very special people I was blessed to have as my Mom and Dad. Thank you, and a belated Happy Father's Day to the HOTY!