breaking bad habits

5 Bad Habits Dads Need to Stop

Louis Zamperini returned home after World War II having cheated death several times, and his story is incredible. As a child, he was a troublemaker until he became a track star. Eventually, he would run in the 1936 Olympic games. He went into the Army during WWII, and his B-24 bomber was shot down. Louis was one of three who survived the crash and spent the next 43 days in a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, they drifted to a Japanese-occupied island where they were put into a prison camp. Over the next two years, Louis was tortured consistently by a sadistic guard nicknamed “The Bird.”

When the war ended, Louis came home, but the pain and suffering he had endured returned with him. Prone to night terrors, Louis couldn’t escape the wrath of “The Bird.” It even stayed with him after he married the love of his life and had a baby. Unable to cope with his pain, he turned to alcohol, which had a devastating impact on his family. His habit of abusing alcohol to numb his pain almost broke his family apart. His saving grace came when he saw Billy Graham speak and came to faith. From then on, he stopped drinking and never had another nightmare. It changed his marriage, his involvement as a father, and his life’s direction. Our bad habits have a bad effect on our families. Breaking bad habits will bring about stronger marriages and stronger kids. Here are 5 bad habits dads need to stop.

1. Getting Drunk

The more time a dad spends with his kids, the more they grow, mature, and develop. Fathers who are drunk spend less time interacting with their children. At the very least, a drunk dad misses the opportunity of being a presence in his kids’ lives, which can stunt their growth. At worst, a drunk dad creates the trauma of insecurity and anxiety in the child because someone who is drunk isn’t functioning clearly. Drunk people tend to be unpredictable, unreliable, and often belligerent. Kids are not equipped to deal with that kind of situation, and they shouldn’t have to.

2. Yelling

It usually gets kids to do what you want. I know—I do it more than I like to admit. But it accomplishes the goal by fear and intimidation. Honestly, I am not opposed to the occasional raised voice to get their attention, but when it becomes the norm, it’s a problem. It may be the easiest way to modify behavior (temporarily), but it creates a relational barrier and models no emotional control. That leads into the next point.

3. Overreacting

It’s difficult to react calmly and say the right things at the end of a long and tiring day. Actually, sometimes it’s even difficult to do when you are well rested. However, whenever we overreact, we lose credibility. When you are a dad, you need to prepare your heart and mind to be the pillar of the family. You are permanently on call to solve problems, make judgments, be a shoulder to cry on, and bear the weight of the family. So before you blow up or make meaningless claims like grounding someone for a year, take a moment to temper your emotions and your words. The more you do, the more you will be respected.

4. Disengaging

We all need time alone to rest, refresh, and reboot. Do it and be intentional about recharging because your family needs your energy, wisdom, influence, and presence. They need your leadership. You have a choice: You can be a source of power or a vacuum. Rather than disappearing into the TV, your phone, or daydreaming, focus your attention on helping your kids and wife (if you are married) with their struggles and making them feel loved. Breaking bad habits like this can make all the difference for your kids.

5. Porn

The more time a dad spends with his kids, the more they grow, mature, and develop.

Being a dad is stressful. It’s difficult to meet the demands of the family, but when you engage you are building character and the strength to rise to the challenge. Your shoulders become broader to handle the weight. Porn, on the other hand, makes all the stress go away, but only momentarily. It’s a distraction, an unhealthy coping mechanism that makes us weaker. Rather than dealing with reality and bolstering our grit and perseverance, porn is simply a temporary escape. The result is weakness, disconnection, and atrophy.

Sound off: Is breaking bad habits difficult for you? What is the best way to start?

Check out the All Pro Dad team discuss this topic on this podcast episode.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you think you break bad habits?”