Keep in mind as you are reading this, it is 6:00 AM; my 7 month-old son is playing beside me; and mom is trying to get some sleep.

Leading by example

I believe that many traits on this list, including this one, for one, needs to be lived by example: Your child’s largest training tools are their own eyes and ears. Everything they see you do is being recorded into a memory that they will recall for the rest of their life. Many of your habits, particularly how you deal with life in general, will be adopted by your child. This will happen without them really making any sort of decision on to follow your example. It will just happen. Realizing this has made me more self-conscience of my daily routine and has resulted in a few changes in my life as a result.

At the moment, my son has no idea why daddy wakes up at 5 am on most days and starts to tap on some device that has a brightly colored screen. If he is awake he sits and plays with his toys. On most days he is sleeping away, but if I hear him stirring I go and drag him into my area so his mom can sleep. I have also decided to cut back on the candy and try to eat better as a result of being their role model. He also has no idea why Mommy is explaining the grammatical differences between Russian and Ukrainian, but he realizes Mom and Dad speak different languages to him.

Help Them Grow

Besides the wife and I being in a competition to teach him the most words in our native languages, dad is always encouraging him to try and take another step and to not be afraid of new people. Let’s admit one thing that is wrong with society today: parents do not spend enough time with their children; too many parents are worried about their “social life” on Facebook and allow the TV and the internet to be the babysitter for their children. It is easy to see the difference between a young child who’s parents spend time teaching them and a child who’s parent’s focus on being on their phone with digital friends.

I have a 2-year-old student who is blessed with a mother who spends a lot of time with her. Her mom has used everything from flashcards, books, and even playing with her in English. I was blown away by how much of a vocabulary she already has in English. Sadly, I must admit that her little Ukrainian girl not only knows more words but also has better enunciation in English than a girl in my family who is similar in age – good parenting at work. If this little girl from Ukraine already has an upper hand on an American child raised in native English, what importance are the parents placing on teaching while raising their child? Her little girl grabs the animal cards and begs us to go over them again and again. Her mother instilled in her the will to be self-motivated while the other parents I am speaking of are always on the X-Box or their smartphones.

Don’t hinder their growth

I remember seeing a commercial a few years back showing a girl interested in science, woodshop, and other “non-traditional girl” hobbies according to the TV parents. Her parents would discourage her at every turn until the last few frames of the commercial, where the little girl is shown touching up her lipstick and heading into the Science Fair. In the book “Mort,” written by Terry Pritchett, the father begged his son not to let people know he could read because that sort of thing scared people. If your child has an interest in something, even if you don’t share the same love, let them engage! This may require you to dig into a few books or web searches of your own to get up to speed so you can hold a conversation with your child in the future. Show encouragement in the positive things your child does. I believe in not only showing interest by listening to your child talking about the thing they have fallen in love with but also providing random gifts of books or magazines on this subject is a great way of keeping them engaged.

Do not mistake your dreams for theirs

            We all know a parent who did not make it far in football, dancing or any other life ambition and then force that activity on their own child – discouraging anything else the child is interested in, particularly if it gets in the way of the parent living vicariously through their child. Showing your child what you love is good; however, forcing it on them with only kill their drive and most likely anything else that the child could have taken a real interest in. “A child is not a vessel to be filled, but a lamp to be lit”. – Hebrew Proverb. You can either drown your child’s dreams with your own or choose to stoke the flames of his or her own.

Starting Good Habits

I believe that starting a child young with habits such as doing their choirs for their weekly pocket-change or instilling in them that they must clean up after themselves will also lead them to be self-motivated. Most things found in an adult’s character are the results of their parents creating habits in the earliest years of the child’s life.

Do Not Flip Flop

Make sure that you are consistent in your rules of conduct with your child, so they are not confused about why you lashed out at them for something they were allowed to do yesterday. Making a child unsure of what they can do around you can cause them to lose drive and result in the child being less self-motivated.

About the Author

J.L. McFadden is a Paranormal Romance author, a contributor to the writer to, a Ukrainian site. He is an American expat that lives with his beautiful wife and son in Kharkiv Ukraine.

What is GetConnectDAD?

A team of fathers is developing content focusing on 52 characteristics we want in our children.  Throughout this journey, we hope parents find some useful hints, some suggested activities, and some new ideas to engage deeper with their children.  Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us.

Please join us by following us on Twitter,  “Like” us on Facebook, or “sign up” for our newsletter.  Our social media links are located directly to the right of this article!

Each Monday, we will release an article on the topic of the week.  During the remainder of the week, we will provide a daily activity you can engage in with your kids to GetConnectDAD!

If you would like to contribute content or ideas to this adventure, please email us at or send us a direct message on Twitter.  To understand the drive behind GetConnectDAD, please click the link for a deeper explanation!  We appreciate your reading this and hope for only the best for you and your family