5 Things Dads Need to Be Effective

I was losing him. My wife told me that my son had a rough day in school. He had received some negative marks, so on the ride home, he shared about feeling sad and slightly insecure. Wanting to give him a pep talk, I went up to his room, and without asking a single question, I launched into encouragement. That led to an explanation of how tough days build character. I kept going, adding more encouragement, and then coming back to character again. What I said wasn’t bad, but I know when what I’m saying is making an impact and when it’s not. And it wasn’t.

In hindsight, there are a number of things I could have done differently that would have been more effective. For one, I should have asked questions, especially about how he felt. And if I had been more to the point, my words probably would have carried more weight. I’m sure I’m not alone in making some of these mistakes. If we want to be effective as dads and make an impact on our kids, we need to have the qualities of a good father. Here are 5 things dads need to be effective.

1. Goodness

Our decisions can either be life-giving or destructive. Kids will gravitate to what is life-giving. We need to speak about and model what’s good. Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Consistency over time equals impact. So if you consistently stand for what is right, upstanding, and kind, the more likely it will eventually rub off on your kids.

2. Self-Control

Speaking of consistency, making good decisions more often than not takes self-control. A person who gives in to impulses, emotions, and selfish desires will make kids feel insecure and build distrust. Proverbs 16:32 says, “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Being faithful in the little things is one of the qualities of a good father that will win the hearts of your kids.

3. Knowledge

Ecclesiastes 1:18 says, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” This makes increasing knowledge look negative, but it’s not. The reality is if we want to be effective, especially with our kids, we need to grow in knowledge and wisdom. Both of these awaken us to the pain of others. We come to understand it, feel it, listen more, and stand with them in their pain and suffering. It causes empathy to pour out of us, and when our kids see that we are with them, our words and actions have a deeper and lasting impact.

The more purely you love, the more of a lasting mark you’ll make.

4. Perseverance

Being a dad is exhausting. Hundreds of people search for “I hate being a dad” every month on Google. There are always opportunities to quit, check out, lose focus, or give only minimum effort. But those are the moments that define the type of dad you are. If you desire to be a truly great dad, then you have to persevere through temptations and difficult moments. When you begin to lose strength and want to check out, you need to double down and engage. Your kids will see your sacrifice, resolve, and dependability. It’ll make what you do and say carry more weight.

5. Love

You can model and teach the best things to your kids. But the most important ingredient you need to be effective is love. First Corinthians 13:1 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” Without love, all of your attempts to influence your kids will amount to nothing. But God is love and the more we get to know Him, the more He enables us to love deeper—sometimes deeper than we thought possible. Like Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” The more purely you love, the more of a lasting mark you’ll make.

Sound off: What are some other qualities of a good father that will help you be effective?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think you need to do to make a positive, lasting impact?”