For my most recent birthday, each of my kids picked out cards for me. My 5-year-old son picked a card that said “Best Dad Ever” on it. On the inside, it read, “Protector. Defender. Hero. Friend.” Let my son tell it—I’m awesome. Now, let’s get honest. I don’t walk around feeling like the “Best Dad Ever.” But in a moment of reflection, I can see that I don’t always mess up everything.
Sure, I have my moments of feeling like a failure. But when I assess how my kids are growing and maturing, one of the things I don’t regret is how I talk with them about anything and everything. There are definitely some ways never to fail as a dad. I’ve intentionally created a space that allows me to win where it would be easy to fail. Here are 3 ways to always win as a dad.
1. Talk about what’s broken.
Maybe you’ve watched the WeCrashed series about the rise and fall of the founders of WeWork. The fall came as the founders failed to discuss what was going wrong. They kept moving from one new vision to another new idea and the company kept trying to pivot behind them. WeWork’s founders never talked about what was wrong. They never listened to the board or the investors’ rebukes. A company, or a dad, must be willing to do the hard work of talking about what’s broken. If there’s miscommunication in your house, for example, take responsibility to address things and get back on track.
2. Talk about how to fix it.
In contrast, the WeWork founders may have had a different trajectory if they had talked about how to correct things—if they had invested the time, focus, and energy required to address wrongs and be the solution. Eventually, you’ll have to correct wrong behaviors from your kid, and it’s never easy. When your son is young, correcting may mean teaching him how to hold a spoon and feed himself instead of making a mess. When he gets older, it’ll mean teaching him how to clean up after himself. Be the chief encourager by helping your kid know the standards and helping him or her live out those standards. When you care enough to correct and set a standard in your home, you can’t lose.You’re more likely to raise your kids well if you praise the good rather than only calling out the bad.
3. Talk about what’s right.
If you only talk about what’s broken and how to fix it, your kids will see you as a lecturer and they’ll probably want to avoid you. Knowing this, you have a chance to win by teaching what’s right. Philippians 4:8 says, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just … dwell on these things.” It’s important to talk about what’s true, honorable, and just—because our kids need to know it when they see it. This means you aren’t always the guy who’s dictating rules, but you affirm these values when you see them in your kids. You give praise when one kid helps a sibling, for example. You’re more likely to raise your kids well if you’re praising the good they do rather than only calling out the bad.
Sound off: What are some ways you feel like you’re winning as a dad?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some things I do as a dad that you love?”