bad dad

3 Subtle Behaviors That Make Us Worse Dads

I know of a guy who used to be well-balanced. He was married, had children, and owned a local business. Looking to purchase some extra property, the man began a conversation with a realtor. Over time, he began to work longer hours and when really hard times hit, he leaned on the realtor. He confided in her instead of his wife. This marked the beginning of a multi-year affair. He became a workaholic and fathered two children out of wedlock. I was the first of those two children. That man was my dad.

And don’t get me wrong—I loved my dad and have many wonderful memories of him. But he did a lot of subtle things that, over time, pulled him away from his family. How can a man go from being a good dad to being a bad dad? Quickly. Usually, the changes are unnoticeable and unintentional. We are consumed by the worries and demands of life or we never set up safeguards ahead of time to protect our families before things go awry. Men, we must stay on alert and avoid these 3 subtle behaviors that make us worse dads.

1. Constant Electronics

When parents are constantly absorbed by electronics, it steals our time, attention, and ability to raise socially and emotionally healthy children. The kids miss out on buffers to help them release stored up energy. They interpret your behavior as saying “something else is more important than me.” And they miss the back-and-forth conversations that set them up for success, which can begin as early as when they’re infants.

It is a parent’s responsibility to monitor and maintain the use of electronics in the home. Lead by example. Have conversations with your children about family expectations and internet safety. Two simple rules that can go a long way are as follows: First, no phones during mealtimes. Second, all devices (yours included) must be turned off and stored for the night at an acceptable time of the evening.

2. Avoiding Tough Conversations

Kids deserve dads who fight for their safety.

Having a teenage daughter myself, I understand how awkward tough conversations can be. But if parents don’t make time for the difficult talks with their kids, who will? The alternatives to our voices become their peers, social media, or a hyper-sexualized culture, to name a few. Kids deserve dads who fight for their safety. When a father is passive and avoids tough conversations, his children won’t know what that’s like nor will they have boundaries in place to strengthen that protection.

Look for everyday opportunities to work these conversations in. I’ve heard that these talks should be more like a drip than a firehose. Instead of blasting heavy topics on your son or daughter all at once, try a little here and a little there. That will produce more favorable results.

3. Not Accepting Constructive Feedback

Has your child ever called you out on something? If so, how did you receive it? I know my daughter has alerted me to behaviors I have overlooked. In moments like these, we have two choices. We can allow our pride to smother a chance for us to right a wrong or we can accept the feedback and make the changes where necessary, for the sake of our families. The former piles more strife onto an already strained situation. The latter builds a foundation that keeps your family strong.

I encourage you to keep communication open in your home. Family meetings are great for allowing everyone to speak their minds equally. By allowing your kids to share their hearts openly, you empower them as valued members of the family.

Sound off: What are other subtle behaviors that affect our parenting?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do we know the difference between right and wrong?”