If you're like me, you understand the importance of knowing what phase we're on in a project, and there's no bigger project than raising our kids. So let's talk about what that looks like.
Note: I don't know the original source of this idea with certainty. My old pastor made it the central message of his sermon one Sunday. My attempts to find the information online failed. If you come across a source, please message me with the link so I can cite it properly.
PHASE 1: "I do, you watch."
Birth to 6ish (Ages may vary: every child is different.)
Set the best examples at all times.
Avoid being abrasive with your spouse and others.
Don't rush your child. Remember, they're doing life for the first time. Everything we do here is alien to them!
Talk to your baby/child every chance you get.
Point to things and name them.
Show them love and affection constantly.
Watch and learn
What does it look like?
I'm the first one to get up in the morning. The baby is wide awake so I take her to the kitchen where I will make breakfast, drink my coffee, and get our lunches ready. I tell the baby, "Good morning." I hold her close to me before I place her in her high chair at the end of the counter. As I pour myself my coffee I tell her, "How about some coffee? I looove coffee! Do you like coffee?" I might give her a safe fruit to hold as I make breakfast and lunches, "Can you hold this apple for me? A-pul. A-A-Apple."
When she gets older (2-4), I'll go to Home Depot to get some batteries and to dream about power tools. A customer walks by with a service dog. I tell my child, "Look! Dog! That's a dog! Isn't he cute?" I might do that with a few tools, too. I let her hold a hammer and maybe a screwdriver, naming each as we explore it.
As she grows into her preschool years, mom and I might disagree with some things. That's expected! It's okay! But we don't raise our voices. We don't throw or slam things. We don't put each other in distress. We quickly agree to talk about it later, at a specific time. Don't break that agreement because if you do, that strategy won't work anymore because you won't trust each other to actually discuss on resolve the issue later.
My daughter still remembers when we used to work on our ABCs and 123s during her preschool years. It was a small part of our day that made learning intentional. The rest of the day we spent exploring the world through dad's outings and work. We both remember that time fondly.
"I do. You watch," basically focuses on demonstrating how to do life. As your child grows in this relationship phase, you'll realize just how many rules and expectations life throws at us. You can only teach this shit by leading by example. If you want your kid to be pretty well caught up by kindergarten, you'll need to work on yourself every single day by being aware, honest, and responsive to your own personal challenges.
Kids remember the most unexpected things. During these, "I do. You watch," years, be the best version of yourself that you can be. Compartmentalize your work time, family time, and your "me time." You need all three to keep balance in your life, and your child needs a balanced dad, too.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, March 25). Early Brain Development and Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/early-brain-development.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, February 22). Positive parenting tips. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/