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Home training: A basis for survival

January 2, 2014

The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers

by Morris Turner

Big Man Howard and his grandson, Amin, web
Big Man Howard and his grandson, Amin
Whether we call it discipline or creating expectations for their behavior, children want and deserve clear directions as to “how to be” in this world. Without this supportive feedback and grounding, they can find themselves mired in frustration, often leading to inappropriate acting out and causing discomfort to themselves as well as those around them.

There are, of course, many different ways to approach the realm of monitoring, directing and responding to the behavior of children. Personally, I frown (heavily) on spanking a child for any reason and have found that “time-outs” and loss of privileges work much better and have true impact on behavior. Perhaps we can explore specific strategies for managing childhood behaviors in a future article; but for now, our focus is to create a mindset that best prepares us as fathers to understand ourselves and the behaviors of our children better.

Here are some tips that other fathers have found helpful:

  1. Keep up with your child’s health care. Issues with eyes, ears, speech or autism could be affecting behavior.
  2. Be aware of your child’s age and maturity. A 2-year-old and a 5-year-old do not see the world in the same way.
  3. What is your intent? Take time to think about this before you speak with your child. Be loving, clear and brief – don’t lecture.
  4. Always remain even tempered. You may be carrying the stresses of the day inside you, but that is not a load your child should have to bear.
  5. Don’t parentify. Don’t use your child as a sounding board for adult issues.
  6. Think outside the box. When presented with two choices, pause for a moment; a third option may appear.
  7. Acknowledge, to your child and to yourself, when you learn something from them. If you’re not learning, you’re not paying attention.
  8. Continually ask yourself, “Are my expectations realistic?” This will help you to keep growing and learning.
  9. Never discipline a child while you are “high” or have been drinking. If you do find yourself confronted with this issue, please seek help. Only bad things can happen, and some of them can last a lifetime.
  10. Your child is not you reincarnated. Let them be their own star, not the one you missed. Remember that it is their first chance, not your second.

Morris Turner is the father of two sons, ages 39 and 35. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at or by calling (707) 794-0729.


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