being a good dad

7 of the Best Parenting Decisions I’ve made as a Father

I have made plenty of mistakes in the 27 years I have been a father—and if you don’t believe me, you can ask my wife and five children! Thankfully, they love me and have forgiven me for the times I have messed up.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about being a good dad and am grateful that I’ve been able to make some wise decisions as well. Here are the 7 best parenting decisions I’ve made as a father.

1. Saying “no” to opportunities.

Early on as a father, I realized that being a dad was my most important job. Sure, I worked hard to provide for my kids, but I was careful not to pursue professional advancement at their expense. As I shared in 4 Important Choices Every Parent Must Make, I declined and deferred several career opportunities so that I could be there for my children.

2. Limiting travel.

Some absence from home can’t be avoided, of course, but as our children were growing up, I would minimize travel whenever possible. If that meant getting an extra-early flight somewhere and coming back late, rather than staying away overnight, I’d do that to be sure to be there to tuck the kids in bed. Even if you’re under someone else’s leadership, they may be open to working with you to minimize your time away from home. Here are 5 Ways a Busy Parent Can Be There for Their Kids.

3. Calendaring everything.

I made sure that all my kids’ activities went onto my calendar even if I could not make all of them—medical appointments, school events, birthday parties, sports practices and games, social outings, and any other extra-curricular activities. One time I found myself with a spare half hour between work appointments and realized I could make it to my daughter’s school for an afternoon pep rally where she was cheering. So I went, made eye contact with her, we both smiled and then I went on to my next appointment. And even in times when I could not be present, I knew what they were involved in so I could call or text ahead of time to wish them well, and talk about it with them afterward. Of course, you won’t always be able to be there: here are 3 As to Recover When You Miss a Moment With Your Child.

4. Coaching their teams.

I think that participating in sports is great for children, teaching them about teamwork, determination, handling victory and defeat, as well as simply encouraging good health. But it’s even better when dad is involved. Through the years I have coached my children’s teams, everything from basketball to baseball. It’s given me an opportunity to spend more time with them, encourage them, and get to know their friends. And when kids are small, you don’t need any particular expertise to be a coach, just a willingness to show up and be encouraging.

5. Loving their mom.

It’s been said that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother well, and I agree. Seeing my wife, Susan’s, and my commitment to each other has provided our children with a sense of security, and modeled, we hope, a good example. We’ve not pretended to be perfect, but they have seen us pursue, support, forgive, encourage, and love each other over our 28 years of marriage.

6. Modeling consistency.

Too many times the media reports on a scandal that reveal someone to be very different in private to the public face they put forward. I have always endeavored to be the same man no matter where I am or whom I’m with. I strive to live a consistent life when I am at home, at church, in the office, or in the public eye. I want my walk to always match my talk in all areas of life.

7. Teaching them about their Heavenly Father.

Even before they were born, I prayed for our children. And through the years, I’ve prayed with them and for them. I’ve taught them God’s Word and about their Heavenly Father—their Creator and Savior—the One who always loves them and has given them eternal life.

Sound Off

If you could add an eighth to the list, what would it be and why?

Mark W. Merrill

Mark is the president of All Pro Dad and Family First , a national non-profit organization. He is also the voice of a daily radio program called The Family Minute.

  • RyDaddy

    8. Involving the kids in whatever I was doing, even if it didn’t initially seem they would enjoy it.

    Trip to the junkyard for old car parts to keep our fleet of old cars and trucks running.
    Drag them out to the woods with me in the heat and the bugs to check game cameras.
    Trips to hardware and home remodel stores.

    A lot of times for them, just being with dad and included means more than what we are doing. And they can find fun in nearly anywhere we go, anyway.

    • d503364

      @disqus_zLqpuQTs6u:disqus this is a great addition!

  • Aaron

    Thank you for this positive article. I like All Pro Dad and other such advice columns but too often the topic is “XX number of ways to avoid such-and-such…” and whatnot, and I’m usually left thinking, yep, been there, fallen into those holes. This is a reminder that this Father’s day, we need to celebrate those things we’re getting right, or at least trying to get right. I’m grateful to my father, my mentors, and my Father that I can stand up straight and say, I’m a dad and I’m doing all I can to raise a good son.

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