Eric has four children. They’re stacked up, evenly spaced, between the ages of 7 and 14. Sometimes he says he thinks he’s losing his mind; at other times he’s quite sure of it. Eric is intelligent, has a good job, shares his home with a loving and supportive wife, and is deeply vested in his community. Yet, much of the time, he feels completely inadequate and woefully ill-equipped for the task of being a dad.
“Intellectually, I understand that this is just a couple of short decades in a long life,” he said. “But emotionally, I honestly can’t see ever getting out of this deep, choking pit of feeling overwhelmed.” Eric isn’t alone. The fact is, most men struggle at one time or another. More than tidy answers, clichés, or “this will fix it” advice, what we really need is to acknowledge that we’re not alone and that other men stand where we stand. We need to stand together. It turns out there’s a lot of ways dads can encourage one another. Here are just a few.
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1. Get in a huddle.
Get three or four dads together and agree to a weekly “Lean on me” gathering. You could read a parenting book together or simply share stories and helpful tips. Stay connected during the week via phone or email.
2. Reach out over a cup of coffee.
If you see another guy struggling, ask him to meet for coffee or lunch so you can share stories. There’s no requirement here to fix his issues. Just listen. Listening is extremely important. Promise to pray for him during the week, and then let him know you followed through.
3. Start a dad’s day initiative.
Start an All Pro Dad’s Day at your child’s school. This is a great way to bring other dads in with resources and support, and an excellent opportunity to hone your own skills as a dad.
4. Invite your friend to share some father-son/father-daughter activities.
Feeling down about being a dad is a lonely place to be. Ask your friend (and his child) along on a father-son or father-daughter outing you have planned. Fishing, All Pro Dad’s Day, watching the high-school football team, ice cream, or a movie. Whatever it is, it’s going to be a real encouragement.
A wise man once said that what goes on between meetings is more important than the meeting itself.5. Stay connected.
A phone call, an email, a card. Words of encouragement at just the right time have a powerful effect. The key element to all these points is follow-through. A wise man once said that what goes on between meetings is more important than the meeting itself. This is certainly true when it comes to encouragement.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one encouraging thing you could say to each family member?”