ADOPTIVE DAD. An acronym describing the job of being an adoptive dad. These are my thoughts but I’m no recruiter. The good news here is that you are your own boss, so you can change the job description to match what’s important to you.
Always there. Whether it’s a 2 am “my friend’s drunk I need a ride” phone call, a 3 am feeding, or applying a band-aid for a nonexistent booboo, you gotta be there.
Dad before self. See yourself as a dad first and your mentality changes. Sure I’d rather watch TV after a hard day’s work, but adoptive dads know that we knowingly took this job.
Off-duty. Every dad needs a break. I can tell you this dad of 6 kids does. Take time out for yourself routinely. Guys have a hard time 1) planning ahead and 2) admitting that we NEED a break. So just do it!
Parent not friend. Don’t confuse parent and friend. Your child, whatever age, needs boundaries. Be a parent who can give tough love. If a moment goes too far or from silly to disrespectful then shut it down. Always know when lines are being crossed and enforce right from wrong. Sorry honey, that short skirt might be cool but it ain’t happening. You’re frigging 9 years old!
Training. Of course training your child to play T-ball is part of training, but guess what… You’re a role model now. Yeah it sucks to be “on” all the time, but you are: your manners, your salty sea talk, your work ethic, your wandering eye. Every move you make, you’re training your little one.
Initiate conversation. Babytalk is the best and I’m convinced the most fun you can have with your adopted child is gibberish, but I’m talking more about ages 7 and up. Ask open-ended questions. The harder you work at forming questions, the more likely he or she will be to respond. Absolutely no “how was your day”! Rather “Was your your science class interesting today?” And, if they aren’t responding, use awkward silence against them.
Veracious. Be an honest person your kids can trust. To me that starts with being open about them being adopted (once they are old enough to understand). Also being genuine and forthcoming on your strengths and weaknesses shows them you’re an imperfect parent who cares and can be trusted.
Encouraging. Enough said.
Discipline. Have your bag of tricks ready. Kids will lie, not listen, and occasionally hide unwanted food in weird places. Choose what YOU think is right for discipline and use it. You know if it’s 123 magic, timeouts, spanking*, or positive reinforcements for the other ones behaving. You decide what works for your child (*Spanking is not allowed for foster children).
Active. Keeping active with your spouse and your little one(s) keeps you young. A family that sweats together stays together. It can be a stroller walk, family tennis, or a trip to the swimming pool. Nothing says “loving adoptive dad” like an “active adoptive dad”.
Daily interaction. We dads are crazy busy working fulltime so it’s not always possible, but try to get some time in with your child every day. It can be a family meal, a car trip with no radio, or a bedtime story. Connect daily and really see the eyes of your child, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
So would you hire yourself? I’m guessing so since you took on the awesome responsibility of being an adoptive dad. Ultimately, adoptive dads don’t need a checklist to measure up to. After all, they’ve already been hired.
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