Dabo Swinney

5 Ways to Be “All In” as a Dad

Several months ago, we hosted an All Pro Dad Experience at Clemson before a spring practice. I am so grateful for the work that All Pro Dad does because one of the biggest problems I see in the world today is fathers not stepping up. So I loved seeing all of the dads there engaging with their kids. It was a great day and event.

As it ended, and our team hit the field for a spring practice, I had the privilege of speaking to all the dads and kids. The theme of the day was “Go All In,” and I listed these 5 ways to do that using the acronym ALL IN.

1. Attitude

You set the attitude in your home, and you need to bring a good one. When you wake up, you have a decision to make about whether the glass is half full or half empty. Your circumstances may be bad, but your decisions as a dad are going to make a huge impact on your kids. The Harvard Business School said the four most critical factors to success in any job are skill, information, intelligence, and attitude. But only 7% is skill, information, and intelligence. Meanwhile, 93% of a person’s success at a job depends on attitude. If you are going to have success as a dad, you need to have a positive attitude.

You may not always like your kids, but you should always love them.

2. Love

You may not always like your kids, but you should always love them. Love them unconditionally. Tell them you love them. Let them see you tell your spouse you love her. Love your kids enough to give them accountability and discipline. Tell them the truth. Let them see you love what you do. Instill passion in them. You are their hero, and your love means more to them than anyone else’s. I believe that to love our kids fully, we need to be connected to God. God is love. Connect to God, and you’ll love your kids better and more fully. Finally, show them how to love and serve others. Be an example of how to care for people.

3. Learn

The world changes every day with young people. You have to keep learning about them and what’s influencing them. The best way to do that is to listen. Listen to your kids. What are they saying? Sometimes it’s not what they’re saying verbally; it’s their body language and behavior. Never stop learning about them, yourself, and life in general. Make sure they see you read, both with them and on your own. And definitely let them see you try new, challenging, and uncomfortable things. Let them see you be a lifelong learner.

4. Invest

Kids spell love T-I-M-E. You have a choice—you can either invest your time or spend your time. The future of our society is in the hands of our kids. What you can do more than anything is invest in them. Be intentional and make the most of every moment. If you’re divorced and you get one day a week with your kids, then make it the best day ever. Kids want quality time with their dads. Give it to them. I believe one of the best ways to invest in your kids is to pray with them and for them. Let them hear you pray for them. It shows how much you care.

5. Now

Be present. Too many people get distracted by what happened yesterday. We get burdened and overwhelmed by it, but there is no hope for a better yesterday. There is, however, hope for today. You have to let go of the past. Also, none of us is promised tomorrow, so you have to have a mindset of now. Put your phone down, and engage with your kids. When you have dinner, talk to your kids and listen to them. Wherever you are, be in the now!

Sound off: What are you doing to go all in for your kids?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it means to be all in on something? How can we be all in for our family?”