New Dad Diaries 31: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

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Chronicling life as a new father to his beautiful firstborn child – daughter Thea – Chris Kerr’s goal is to provide all men experiencing fatherhood for the first time with some invaluable tips and tricks as they are learned – the hard way. This week, with Christmas approaching, Chris talks about the importance of Dad’s setting rituals and traditions for the health of our families.  

‘Twas a month before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… apart from a seven-month-old who woke up for the sixth time in as many hours. 

This disrupted night was not ideal, as the following morning we had to get up early to go to the Christmas tree farm. This was an annual tradition for my wife Alicia and I, and we were keen to invite Thea into share it.   

That’s because traditions are important for a child’s welfare and development. They provide structure and security. They create good memories that provide the foundation for them to flourish even into adulthood. They build bonds between families, and opportunities to pass on important values. And when years are tough for families, they are like little bright lights on a dark and stormy lake.  

That’s why, I urge all fathers to take the lead and think about the traditions and rituals that you can implement and maintain on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis.   

Here are some Christmas tradition ideas for you: 

  • Booking out the first Saturday of every December (or mid-November!) to put your Christmas tree up.
  • Going to a Christmas Carol concert at your local church and then out for dinner afterwards.  
  • Go to your local Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  
  • Bake Christmas cookies.  
  • Have a Christmas movie day as a family (treats optional).  
  • Make Christmas decorations together.  
  • Take a Christmas family photo. 
  • Walk around your local area and pick out the best decorated house. 
  • Exchange one gift on Christmas Eve (a book or pyjamas).
  • Do something kind and charitable as a family. 
  • Visit your local Christmas market.

The best place to start is by continuing the traditions you loved as a child. These will allow you to pass on your all-important family heritage to your little ones. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what you do though, just make it fun and meaningful for all of you and make sure you keep doing it, every year.

Before we wrap this up (sorry) let me just pass on this warning. How a father acts during the tradition will make it or break it. If you are kind, smiling and engaged, you will bring all the benefits of traditions to life for your son or daughter. If you are grumpy, angry, or drunk then you risk having the opposite effect. So, if you are having a tough time, find a way to release it in a healthy way first. Your children, and the adults that they grow into, will remember how you made them feel.    

You set the tone dad.  Make it a good one.  

TIP OF THE WEEK: Traditions are important throughout the year. Think about how you can create some all year round, eg Daddy/daughter dates, nightly reading before bed, taking your son out for some man-to-man time once a fortnight, and so forth.    

Chris Kerr

Chris is a husband to Alicia and father to Thea, who is the subject of his columns on Fatherhood for Sorted.  In his spare time he works for a national law firm in an executive capacity and provides crisis leadership consultancy support for non-profits across the UK.  He attends Urban Crofters Church in Cardiff.  A keen weekend adventurer, Chris is regularly spotted in the sea or on mountains.
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