Tag: parenting

Learning to be a dad

No one teaches us how to be a dad. There’s no guidebook or class for it. We stumble through, learning as we go, making mistakes like our parents and others did. Time slips away so quickly that even when we learn a lesson, the chance to use it is gone; our kids have grown up.

We’re left with a heavy heart full of regrets and longings, but our children have moved on, building their own lives and repeating what we taught them. They focus on their careers and futures, not looking back at us even though we yearn to spend time with them.

We talk about money, careers, promotions – but never about how to be a dad. How are you learning to be a dad?

You got only 15 summers with your kids

You’ve only got 15 summers with your kids. After those 15 fleeting summers, they’ll spread their wings and leave the nest, forging their own lives. To build a close bond, you must seize these precious moments under your roof.

Spend time together during those formative years, and later when life pulls you apart, the bond remains strong. You’ll still talk, laugh, and understand one another. However, if you’re too busy working and missing out on their childhood, they won’t form a bond with you. Later you might find time to bond, but kids are gone and busy creating their own lives.

So bonding with your kids during their first 15 years is essential. Share your time with them. You can read them a story. Make up stories for bedtime. Play with them. Trek a valley with them. Take them for a walk. Ask them about their day. Listen to them and help them solve their problems. Watching TV or going to the movies doesn’t count since you’re both passive. In short, do things with them and make memories.

You might tell yourself that you’re working for your family and earning a decent salary. What’s the point of money if it doesn’t build relationships with the people you’re earning it for?

So cherish those 15 summers and make the most of them – forge an unbreakable bond with your kids.

Building family culture

Culture is not just important for businesses and institutions, but also for families. As a homeschooling dad, I often wonder what kind of culture I want to create. On my podcast, I talked to a retired major general about constructing a winning culture. He highlighted three essential elements:

  • psychological safety,
  • success, and
  • stories.

Imagine a team where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts, disagreements, and suggestions. A place where they can try new things and know they’ll be supported. Psychological safety lets everyone explore and grow.

Success is key to any thriving culture. We have to define what winning means to us. Without success, the team will crumble, and interest will wane. Families are no different.

Last but not least, powerful stories reinforce the values we want to instill. We learn what’s acceptable and what’s not from stories.

As a family, we value good citizenship, respect for elders, and independence. I encourage my boys to be honest and bold. If they make a mistake, but tell the truth about it, I don’t punish them. They still lie sometimes, but more often than not, they’re honest.

Success, for homeschoolers, is different from that of traditional schools. We don’t chase grades or vanity metrics. Instead, my children set their own goals each quarter, writing them down and pursuing them with fervor. As their guide, I’m there to help them – whether it’s registering domains, organizing industry tours, or buying tools. Ultimately, they decide what they learn.

We review progress weekly, walking the path to success together. At each quarter’s end, my children celebrate their accomplishments. They have had their fair share of victories – from polishing their writing skills using AI tools to my son passing the Trinity guitar exam.

Stories are our lifeblood. Around the dinner table or on the porch, we chat about family history – my upbringing, my dad’s lessons, and my college days. These stories reveal to them what we value at home. I also encourage boys to talk about what they’ve learned, and what they want to be. Our dinner table is surely full of stories.

Although I hadn’t explicitly focused on these three factors – safety, success, and storytelling – I am going to consciously focus on these to build our home culture.

Manliness Redefined

My father never hit the gym, mastered martial arts, or sculpted a six-pack. Yet, I can’t think of anyone more manly than him.

He dove headfirst into raising our family. He’d stand by my mother, chopping vegetables for dinner. Every Saturday, he washed clothes with me by his side. Once a month, we scrubbed our home clean together.

But his dedication went beyond family; he cared for our community too. Summers brought drought and water scarcity to our neighborhood. Dad worked tirelessly to find solutions along with neighbours, like digging wells or exploring other options. He also devoted himself to our church, serving as treasurer for the St. Vincent de Paul Society for years.

At work, my father faced a cunning boss from a rival community who tried to trap him with tricks. But Dad never complained or lost heart; instead, he outsmarted his boss and earned promotions until he retired as headmaster.

When my mother, a school teacher, faced issues with promotions or pay hikes, Dad wrote letters and petitioned with officers to ensure she got her due.

Today’s definition of manliness often revolves around gyms and bulging biceps. While there’s nothing wrong with feeling good about our bodies, manliness is so much more than that. Our society needs a broader view of manliness that goes beyond physicality.

It’s about how you treat your wife, raise your kids, participate in the community, and face the challenges of life.

We must see manliness as more than muscle and bone; it’s a journey of heart and soul.

When kids enjoy they excel

I homeschool my kids. We’ve been homeschooling for two years now, and I’m seeing their understanding grow. This year, I learned: when they enjoy what they do, they excel.

In August, my eldest son volunteered to assist partially and completely blind people. His experience blew him away and he gained an appreciation for how diverse people’s lives can be. It amazed him how blind people used cell phones, played guitar, and became self-sufficient after initial training. This experience fostered a deep empathy for others’ challenges.

He also did well on his Trinity guitar exam.

My sons started writing regularly on their personal blogs, publishing at least one article per week. They used a generative AI tool called AudioPen to dictate their thoughts and WordTune to refine them. By embracing new technology, they learned how to communicate better.

They also honed their video production skills – recording, editing, and publishing. Many of my friends liked a video he made about Chola history.

In addition, they began learning Harvard’s popular “Introduction to Computer Science” course. They started making videos about their learning.

If you are not already subscribed to their blogs or video channel, you should consider subscribing.

• Eldest son’s blog: https://blog.joshgarrett.xyz/
• Younger’s blog: https://blog.jerrygarrett.xyz/
• Video channel: https://www.youtube.com/garrettsboys

In December, my eldest son ran six kilometers. As part of my fat-to-fit journey, I jogged three days a week with him. It took him awhile to build up his stamina, but he eventually did.

It never ceases to amaze me how much my kids have grown and accomplished in just two years.

I’ve watched my children bloom as they explore new passions – from video making to running – in this vibrant world of homeschooling. They’re energised by their enthusiasm, allowing them to excel in whatever they’re passionate about.

I’m grateful I chose this path, and it seems I’m not alone. This year, more and more curious souls have reached out to me, wanting to know how homeschooling works. In the coming years, this alternative education will only grow in popularity.