It was a rainy Sunday. I remember my dad telling my mom he didn’t feel well. We didn’t know it at that moment, but he was having a heart attack. He was around 45. Although he recovered, a decade and a half later, he sat in a doctor’s office and was told he needed to change his habits or he wouldn’t survive. Unfortunately, nothing changed and a year later, he was gone. There are moments when I appreciate that he lived the way he wanted to live, but mostly I end up frustrated. My dad never met my wife and kids. The only pieces they know about him are the stories I tell and the pictures they see.
If he had been willing to do some difficult things, he could still be here and that would have meant the world to me. There are so many great things about being a dad, and then there are tough things—things dads do that we’d rather not. But if doing them means our kids grow up better, fuller, more mature, and well-rounded with a stronger sense of self, then it’s worth it. Here are 5 things we hate to do but need to do as dads.
1. Work out.
I used to play basketball every week and was frustrated when the gym was closed. After I turned 35, my attitude changed. All of a sudden, getting dressed to play ball felt like a lot of work. It was as if my metabolism fell out of my body. Working out gets way harder as we get older, but if we don’t, we run the risk of leaving our kids without a father. If you want to watch your kids graduate, dance at their weddings, and play with your grandchildren, you need to work out.If we don’t discipline our kids, they run the risk of being entitled, disrespectful, and self-centered.
While I was at the movies recently, I was sitting next to a boy who was around 11 years old. He took out his phone, which started to make loud noises. His father, sitting two seats away, told him to put it away. The boy turned to his father and said, “No!” The dad didn’t follow up and the kid kept using his phone. It’s not easy to hold boundaries with consistency and firmness. It’s probably one of the hardest things dads do. But if we don’t discipline our kids, they run the risk of being entitled, disrespectful, and self-centered.
3. Create fun.
It’s better to be the fun dad than the disciplinarian. However, creating fun takes a lot of work and energy. And if you are like me, it actually takes thoughtfulness. Being a dad is stressful. You’re juggling details, providing for the family, and answering questions. I can let the responsibilities of fatherhood make me grumpy and overly stern. I have to ask myself: When was the last time you laughed with the kids? When is the last time you planned something special to do with them?
4. Answer 1,000 questions.
Speaking of answering questions, our kids have a ton of them and they never ask at a convenient time. Typically they come at bedtime after a long day—when all you want to do is sleep. You can say you’ll talk about it the next day, which I’ve done. But you will miss an opportunity because it’s likely they won’t ask again. So take every question they ask and answer it because if you don’t, they will seek answers from someone or something else. And if you really do need to put it off, make sure you at least initiate the conversation the next day.
Having our way and satisfying our wants and desires is easy. Sacrifice is difficult. Putting the well-being of someone else before your own takes commitment, courage, humility, and a strong will. But it’s among the most important things dads do. The reason it’s so important is it communicates to your children that they are worth more than all the other things that would captivate your heart and mind. Let them know how valuable they are by your sacrifice.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 5 Beautiful Sacrifices Every Mom Makes.
Sound off: Of all the things dads do, what do you most hate doing (but do anyway)?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some things you have to do but don’t enjoy? Why is it good for you to do those things?”