After a long day, I drove to the movies with my son and looked forward to turning my brain off. But on the way, my son said, “Dad, do you think Daniel Boone was a hero?” I sat there staring forward, trying to think of something. Finally, I just told him the truth: I had absolutely no idea. I’d never read any books or watched any documentaries about Daniel Boone or studied his life in any way. But my son had. I’m not going to tell you what side of the argument he’s on (and I didn’t even know there was an argument), but he proceeded to school me on all things Daniel Boone for the rest of the car ride until the movie’s opening credits. My son loves history and studies it. He watches history documentaries on his own.
The interaction made me think. If we want to be experts in a subject, we have to spend time studying it. The most elite experts in various fields don’t just rely on their experiences—they study. They constantly push themselves to learn and grow. The hard work results in making a mark in their fields. Talented athletes become hall of famers because they never stop sharpening their skills. What if we did the same as dads? What are some things dads need to study? What can we do that will take us from being good dads to excellent dads? What knowledge can we gain that will help create an environment where our kids will grow in stature and maturity? Here are 5 things dads need to study.Our kids desire to be known, and to know them, we need to study them.
1. Their Kids
All kids are uniquely different. They may have similarities to other people, especially to us. But we can’t assume we know what they’re thinking and feeling. The best dads observe their kids and ask open ended questions. They dive into their kids’ likes and dislikes, they listen to their music, and try to learn their favorite activities. Our kids desire to be known, and to know them, we need to study them.
2. The Next Stage
Clearly, kids grow and change, especially as they enter puberty. But we continue to treat them the same, as if they will always be the same age and have the same interests. If we don’t take time to prepare for the next stage, we’ll be hopelessly unprepared. In fact, by the time we figure the current stage out, they may be on to the next one. So study the next stage. Talk to parents who have been through it, and even prepare your kids for what’s coming next.
Having a successful life—and by successful, I mean meaningful and fulfilling—depends on having healthy relationships. We need to help our kids navigate relationships well. In order to do that, we need to become relationship experts. We need to study proper boundaries, resolving conflict, navigating vulnerability, reconciliation, forgiveness, and how to understand differing perspectives. We need to be able to teach these to our kids, but more powerfully, we need to model them.
In order to be the best dad possible, you have to be self-aware. What are your strengths? What are your blind spots, weaknesses, and triggers? How did your childhood affect you, both positively and negatively? In what ways is your thinking unhealthy? When we’re self-aware, we have a fuller grasp on the truth and a trustworthy perspective. Your kids will see that, especially as they get older. You’ll be someone they’ll continue to seek out for guidance.
We all need wisdom and guidance. There is no one more qualified to guide us in fatherhood than God. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” God created life. He created you and he created your kids. He knows each of us better than we know ourselves. On top of that, He is loving. So if you want to be a dad full of love and wisdom, study the greatest example.
Sound off: What are some other things dads need to study?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think a person needs to do to become an expert in something?”