It’s another new year, which means people everywhere are making resolutions. Many of them won’t be kept. But, not to be left out in the cold, I’ve made a few personal resolutions. Not to get in shape or give up caffeine (heaven forbid!) but to change up my parenting style and slightly redirect it.
I have no regrets about what I did as a father in 2016, but there’s always room for improvement, right? So, onward to 2017…
1. Help my kids understand history and its ramifications.
With some of the more…unexpected political events of 2016, I think it’s more important than ever for people to understand history. Real history and real events that have a lasting impact on us today. Not just Facebook “history” from two years ago at most. How is the world connected? How did we get here? Why do some people and events have lingering consequences, and what can we learn from them? Kids are never too young to understand history; it just needs to be presented in the appropriate way. With that in mind, The History Book is a fantastic place to start. DK has put out several similar books, and they all carry the tagline “Big Ideas Simply Explained.” The book is fully illustrated and covers all of human history – from our origins 20,000 years ago to 2011, when the global populations exceeded 7 billion.
2. Have more answers to their questions (and help them find their own answers).
I’ll admit it: I’m not the world’s handiest dad, and I find myself running to Google more times than I care to admit when my kids ask questions about the world around them. They’re also getting to the age where they can find answers to their questions themselves. To that end, I want to make it a family goal to learn more about the world, how it works, technology we take for granted, and how everything’s connected. If my kids are going to succeed in a future world we can’t even imagine today, they need to have a firm grasp on what will inevitably be its building blocks. The classic The Way Things Work Now has been recently revised and updated, and it’s a phenomenal resource. If you’re simply skimming through or taking a deeper dive, you’re sure to learn something new.
3. Teach my daughter about real-life female heroes.
My daughter is certainly well-acquainted with many of the fictional superheroines from graphic novels, books, television, and movies, but she’s getting old enough (7) that she really should understand that the real world is also full of amazing women who have changed the course of history. Ms. Marvel and Princess Leia are great, but I want her to idolize real women who faced incredible odds, stared down the patriarchy, and weren’t afraid to rock the boat a little. That’s why our nighttime ritual where I read aloud to her will now also include chapters from books such as Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, The Book of Heroines: Tales of History’s Gutsiest Gals, and Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History.
4. Be there for everything they need.
This one’s about me. Like many of you, I spend entirely too much time online and immersed in social media. I want to pull myself out of that swamp and be more present in my kids’ lives. That means no phones at the dinner table; more board games and play time with actual, physical toys, and more time spent outdoors exploring nature and local treasures. And more time doing the three things above. Less Facebook, less Twitter, less time spent in front of a computer. (And yeah, Superhero Dad is pretty much perfect in this regard.)
Happy New Year! What are your resolutions?