I don’t just want to be a good dad—I want to be a great dad. This is why I look up to other dads (both real and fictional) who exemplify the sort of dad I want to be. The trouble is that when I measure myself against other dads’ generosity, love, and perseverance, I don’t measure up. Do you?
Some of our greatest shortcomings as dads aren’t necessarily all bad or don’t seem selfish at first glance. But when we are honest with ourselves, there are 4 ways we accidentally become a selfish dad.
As a big-time Edmonton Oilers fan, I would love to be able to spend 82 nights a year plus playoffs on my couch cheering my hockey team on. While work and other commitments make this next to impossible, I still want to watch as many games as I can. But some nights, the game is on during that small window of time between getting home from work and my kids’ bedtime. Some days, it’s worth having the kids pile on the couch beside me to watch hockey. But other days, it’s important to set that time aside for responsibilities around my house and time spent focused on my kids.
Needing Order and Peace
Those of you old enough to remember the original run of Full House (1987-1995) will remember that Bob Saget’s character, Danny Tanner, was obsessively clean. I’ve got a little bit of Danny Tanner in me. We had to make a rule that I’m not allowed to vacuum the kitchen until guests have gone home. The trouble with wanting my house to be clean is that my kids’ joie de vivre tends to bring with it a lot of mess. If I’m really honest, though, it’s not just the mess; it’s the chaos. I can act like a selfish dad when I limit their joy in order to keep order and peace around the house.
Staying Up Late
Sometimes, the best time to get work done is late at night when the busyness of the day has passed and all the kids are in bed. I also find that it’s the best time to binge-watch a show or make some progress on a video game. I’m an adult and no one is going to tell me when to go to bed! But staying up late brings with it some difficult consequences. It’s much more difficult to drag myself out of bed the next day. There are times when staying up late is necessary and unavoidable and other times when staying up late is selfish. That’s because the next day, when we’re tired, our family doesn’t get our best. We’re a little more irritable, a little more impatient, a little more disengaged, and a little more selfish.
Trying to Be Too Efficient
Whether it’s washing the car or building a set of shelves, I tend to dread the moment my kids realize what I’m doing. Inevitably, they ask to help, because it’s a thrill to use a pressure washer or power tools. My gut reaction is almost always to say no. I have a whole list of things I want to get done. Letting my kids take a turn means they might not do it right, they won’t do it quickly, and I’m most likely going to have to do it over again. But we need to ask ourselves what’s most important: getting a job done or building a memory with our kids?
Sound off: What are some of the ways you can (accidentally) be a selfish dad?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How does it make you feel when your friends are being selfish?”