This past month I read a new book called Miracle in Shreveport. Written by twin brothers David and Jason Benham, it is about their lifelong dream of playing in the same minor league baseball stadium together in Shreveport, Louisiana. On their way toward this dream, while playing at Liberty University, Jason started to experience strong success at the plate. During a game with major league scouts in attendance, Jason faced a left-handed pitcher with a rocket for an arm. His plan was to wait for the right pitch to go after. However, with a runner on first base, his coach pulled a surprising move, signaling for a hit and run. That meant the runner would steal and Jason would have to make contact with the first pitch no matter where it was. He was frustrated, but in order for the team to be successful, he had to embrace the change of plans. The runner went as the pitch came, a 95 mile an hour fastball. Jason swung and crushed a drive over the right-field wall. He had never hit a ball like that in his life.The more locked into your plans you are, the more those plans will choke the life out of you.
When you become a dad your life experiences a change of plans. You have to adapt to situations that are difficult to foresee and sometimes impossible to prepare for. In other words, whatever your plans were before have to change for the betterment of your family, and especially your kids. The more locked into your plans you are, the more those plans will choke the life out of you. The more open you are to those plans changing, the more enjoyment you will experience in fatherhood. Here are 5 plans you need to let go of in fatherhood.
1. Your Plans of Achievement
This is a tough one for men. Generally speaking, we want to achieve success in our careers because it makes us feel respected. However, our kids need our time and energy, and those can come at the expense of work. I’m not saying we fail to meet our responsibilities at work, but achieving higher levels tends to take overtime and single-minded focus. Those two things cost your family. There are exceptions, but for most, there are difficult decisions to be made about where we spend our time. Where you spend your time will communicate what you love most.
2. Your Plans to Maintain Control
My pre-marital counselor gave me some great advice: the moment your child is born start letting go. Your kids are people and people are unpredictable. There’s no way you can control your kids. They are going to make mistakes, take risks, and do things that will surely embarrass you. The sooner you let go of control the better.
3. Your Plans for Your Children and Parenting
Before my kids were born I knew everything about parenting. I would look at other families and arrogantly think: My kids are not going to behave like that. Then my kids were born and I realized how little I knew. Being a parent means learning who your children are and then customizing your parenting to the needs of those kids. Don’t get me wrong, there are many best practices in parenting and consistency is a parent’s best friend, but the best parenting practice of all is made up of three words – know your child.
4. Your Plans for Your Money
I’ll never forget when I was single and I visited my cousin, a father of two. He said, “You need to be ready to have kids because they cost a fortune.” I remember being offended that he placed a monetary value on his kids. Now that I am a father of two I see how right he was. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on the financial needs of my kids something new pops up.
5. Your Plans for What Your Family Looks Like
Did you have a picture of what your life with a family looked like? Your house, your vacations, your family photos? It probably looks different than what you had planned, for some significantly different. Having expectations or plans that turn out different often results in disappointment. Perhaps it is time to embrace the hand you were given, remembering that your kids, and your wife if you are married, are a gift for you to love no matter what that picture looks like.
Bonus: Your Plans for Your Free Time
You don’t have this anymore so you no longer need a plan.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “In what areas do you feel like you might need to change?”