4 Things You Can Control as a Dad

Five years ago, my sons and I were hiking on the Tonto Natural Bridge trail in Pine, AZ when trouble started to brew. Just minutes earlier, the sun was out, but clouds quickly rolled in and the temperature dropped suddenly. It was July, and I knew right away what was about to happen, but I hadn’t fully planned for it—a monsoon. The sky got dark and torrential rain and wind followed. We rode out the storm together, and thankfully we made it back to my truck safely. But along the way, I didn’t have the one thing I really wished for: control over the situation.

There are lot of things a dad can’t control, and we have to accept it. However, there are some things you can control in your life as a dad, and you absolutely should. Here are 4 things you can control in your life as a dad.

1. Your Time

Cell phones have given us the opportunity to work from anywhere at anytime. We also have access to sports, movies, and TV whenever we want, but if we let these things control our time, we won’t be able to spend it with whomever matters most: our families. My biggest fear is when my two sons grow up, I reach out to them wanting to hang out and they tell me that they are too busy. If you want to avoid being the dad in the song “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, start carving out time for your family now and be present in their lives while you have all of them in your house.

2. Your Temper

The obvious thing that comes to mind is not swearing or being physical, but that should be a given. As men we need to be way better than that. What I am talking about is not only what you say, but how you say it. Our tone can be just as important as the words we say. Think about how you talk to a dog. You can tell him in the sweetest voice that he has a stinky rear end and he will still wag his tail. Our words are still important, but we can’t overlook our tones. Take time to be calm and think before you speak. Positive communication is the key to connecting with your child.

3. Your Spending

It’s hard to call out your kid for spending money on something you think is worthless like a video game when you just blew $100 on lottery tickets in front of them. Spending is definitely one of the things you can control in your life. Having a budget is important, and being a good steward of your money shows your child a great example. Sit down with your kids when you think they’re old enough to understand a budget, and go over how to prioritize their wants and needs.

4. Your Screens

Your kids are always watching you while you are watching something. Phubbing is a funny word, but its a real thing. It’s when you are not giving full attention to someone else who is with you because you are distracted by your phone. Check and see how much time you are spending alone on a screen versus spending time with your family. There are apps for that. Having your own personal time is important, but it should not get to the point where it is alienating your family. Share a screen together with a family movie night. Pop some popcorn, grab some ice cream, and throw a bunch of pillows down in the family room. Cuddle up on the couch and laugh together with a good movie.

Sound off: What are some other things you can control as a dad?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What would you like to do together this weekend?”