Given that it is only June and we are breaking historic heat records, the word “cool” has a certain attraction to it. What is the difference when a wife says “My husband is so cool with the kids,” and when an adoring five-year-old says “My daddy is so cool”?
It’s probably the level of “adoration” in the tone of the words, as well as who says it. After all, the man may have forgotten to empty the diaper pail when it was his turn. He might have had to work late three nights in a row, missing his daycare pick-up turn, leaving you to careen down the road from your down-town job, to get there before its 6:00 pm closing. But perhaps cool…is something else.
Long before a child can articulate a single word, let along string together a five-word sentence, they learn what a truly cool daddy is, if they have one. And it is not one who keeps the kiddos up until midnight to hang out with them, or buys coffee drinks for three-year-olds. A cool daddy isn’t a person who lets toddlers watch movies that would be questionable for 13-year-olds, or buys them everything they scream for in stores.
No, a cool daddy takes the time, not just to play with their children, but to share the parenting responsibility to show them where the boundaries are. Kids with boundaries learn to feel safe. Boundaries, meaning bedtimes, and daily structure. Boundaries meaning learning what “no” or “not now” means. Boundaries meaning manners modeled before the child can speak a word, boundaries meaning needs met consistently, but not catered to. Boundaries make kids feel safe. If they don’t know where the boundaries are, kids keep pushing outward until they find them, leading to the kind of behavior that, in animals, can cause them to eat their young.
Seriously, cool dads help keep the boundaries in place. Exhausted and thankful moms everywhere can vouch for this. Cool daddy’s model patience. Cool dads reinforce kindness. Cool dads help teach kids to treat others with respect. And the really cool daddy’s learn to teach this hand in hand with grateful moms across the globe.