What are the things dads do that make them great fathers? One expert may say this or that while another takes a different approach. Not all may be wrong, but where do we start and how do we filter through the avalanche of parenting advice coming at us every day?
Our children hunger for the best from us as fathers and we long to give it to them. To break it down into the simplest of terms, if we want to give our kids our best, today’s fathers should consistently do these 3 things.
The impact of a dad who loves his children consistently can last for generations. Men, tell your children you love them—early and often. Explain that you love them simply because they are your sons and daughters. In addition to telling them directly, try small but spontaneous acts of love, like leaving a note in your child’s locker at school or writing a message with a dry erase marker on his or her bathroom mirror.
Of course, love goes beyond just words. Setting household rules and expressing fair discipline lets our children know they are valued and protected. It also sets a standard for when they are adults. Our children may never know or see many of the other sacrifices we make on their behalf, but the impact it will have on them is invaluable.
2. LearnWhen we grow as our children do, we set a strong example for them.
Life keeps going and we must continually adapt as our children grow and the world around them changes. As parents, we always should seek to keep learning. In fact, the choice not to keep learning puts us behind at an increasingly rapid rate. Consider the importance of staying up to date on the latest technology, increasing your knowledge of child development as our kids transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, or even going back to school yourself to advance your career.
Keep learning. When we grow as our children do, we set a strong example for them. Our willingness to do so conveys that we notice and take interest in their lives and that is a message all kids need. A teachable parent is an engaged parent—one who is actively attached rather than detached.
The words “do as I say, not as I do” should never come from a parent’s mouth. Because more often than not, our children will do as we do. That should be like a power surge to our awareness of how we are leading our families—both inside and outside the home. How we incorporate loving and learning are representative expressions of our leadership.
Leadership comes in many forms and research shows that when parents become leaders, not only do they themselves benefit, but their children also assume similar age-appropriate roles. Lead in the home through responsibility, finances, faith, and values. Lead in the community through active engagement in your child’s school and community volunteering. Don’t take this for granted. Sometimes the most obvious and mundane tasks can be the most influential upon our sons and daughters.
According to Goethe, “Things that matter the most must never be at the mercy of things that matter the least.” Yes, we will fail at times. Still, the things dads do to be loving, learning, and leading builds a solid legacy for their children. The man who seeks to grow in all three ways has one of the most valuable of all treasures in his sights: his child’s heart.
Sound off: How can you continue to grow as a loving, learning, and leading father?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing I do that makes you feel loved?”