Monday, April 26, 2010

Man Skills

Every dad needs to have some basic man skills, if for no other reason than because it's valuable for kids to see their dads working about the house from time to time. I think it can go so far as to provide a sense of security to kids. On a subconscious level, it's probably reassuring for kids to see dads investing of their free time, skill (or whatever substitute they have), and creativity in the family home. If Dad's spending this time and money on fixing things up, making things niftier and more useful, and adding his personality, he must be in it for the long haul.

On another level, we dads don't often do well just taking our kids aside and saying, "Let's talk." If we were to do that, our kids would probably be so freaked out that they wouldn't know what to say anyway. But kids are generally fascinated by how things happen. The EveryToddler is fascinated by "Dad's Garage." She knows it's dad's garage and there are strange things in there. She loves it when I tinker around in there and loves to just watch. This is the same fascination with how food is prepared or how the vacuum works translated to the man skills environment.

But more than that, we generally do better talking to our kids while we're doing something else. Working together provides a great venue for those conversations. Even toddlers can be useful helpers when asked to help in the right tasks. The EveryToddler, for example, is a great thrower-away of things. She's also a thief of tiny screws, but that's my fault for putting those interesting things in her path.

Economically, there's another benefit to doing little improvements around the house. I make no claims that it's cheaper to do it yourself as most of us have botched enough things that it could have been cheaper and quicker to outsource, but there's a psychological return on investment at play here. The EveryFamily is currently renting, but we're not ignorant of the plight of homeowners who have seen the equity in their down payments fall victim to plummeting home value. No longer able to trade up, families are finding a lot of value in making their current home more the home of their dreams. Good call.

What do you folks see as the man skills that every dad should have?

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