One of the key enablers to instilling principles and traits in our children is being consistent with the key points/messages conveyed to them during these critical shaping years. Additionally, key messages have to be reinforced routinely and as opportunities arise at every subsequent phase of their growth. This has to begin with identifying the core messages that are to be established and reinforced.
I have written about making the plan and cumulative effect, both of which complement the principles of consistency and reinforcing a given message. Those were relatively general with a spattering of examples. I want to use this post to explain one of my most critical responsibilities as a father and how I went about fulfilling that responsibility.
One of the core responsibilities of a father is to protect his family. This is not simply physical protection but spans the mental and emotional aspects as well. One of my core philosophies was to preclude anything catastrophic from happening (at a minimum) before my girls left the house. I defined this as them avoiding sex, alcohol, abuse and drugs, as well as the negative consequences associated. I tagged an acronym (maybe it is the Army in me) to help instill these tenants in them. The mnemonic was “Don’t be SAAD,” with each letter representing one of those areas – (no) Sex, (no) Alcohol, (no) Abuse, (no) Drugs.
I used this acronym to introduce discussions when applicable. I had an “elementary” and “graduate” edition, which I used before they left the house (elementary) and when they were about to leave (graduate). The elementary edition included a consistent message about not having sex before graduating high school; no underage drinking; proactively a