Fatherhood Survival Skills

While I enjoy adventure, the last thing I would describe myself as would be an outdoorsman. I’m not a fan of creatures, bugs, sleeping on the ground, anything related to heights, or waking up in the morning without the option of a shower. I’m also prone to motion and altitude sickness. My wife is the opposite—not about bugs and creatures, but she loves being out in the wilderness. For a number of years, she was a mountain guide in Colorado and organized a six-day hiking and camping trip with teenagers while we were dating. She enlisted the help of a friend and fellow guide from years past named Doug. While it had been years since my wife guided, Doug hadn’t stopped. Since they last had guided together, in the words of my wife, Doug had “perfected the art of guiding.”

He knew how to navigate and survive the harsh conditions of the wilderness. One day, he led the group on a peak climb of a 13,600-foot mountain. He could see things the rest of us couldn’t, particularly potential dangers. Doug pulled a couple of maneuvers that made me comment to my wife something along the lines of him making Crocodile Dundee look like a sissy. Fatherhood can be a lot like the wilderness. The conditions are unpredictable and sometimes harsh. There are certain survival skills to develop that help navigate it well. The benefits of refining these abilities will have a major impact on the health of your family. Here are 5 essential survival skills for dads.

1. Prioritizing

Always keep proper perspective and clarity on the big picture. It’s easy to focus on the wrong things, especially when we are being pulled in a million different directions. Dads set a powerful tone for the family. Losing perspective can result in the entire family falling into dysfunctional attitudes and behavior. The purpose of family is love and belonging. Maintain the rhythm of that baseline.

2. Awareness

In order to survive in the wilderness, it’s important to know your environment. Having an awareness of what is going on in each family member’s life is only the beginning. Strive to know the heart of each person and how each person operates—this includes yourself. Find out the most stressful things that are going on, what feelings are associated with them, and how they affect behavior.

3. Flexibility

Kids, family, and life in general are unpredictable. Thriving in the midst of it takes flexibility and the ability to adapt. Being flexible requires a person to be a learner, and the quicker the better. Each kid is different. Kids go through changes and many different phases. You need to approach them differently according to their needs. Love, care for, and serve all your family members where they are rather than where you expect them to be.

Love, care for, and serve all your family members where they are rather than where you expect them to be.

4. Humor

Being a dad is stressful. Our time, energy, skills, and resources are in a perpetual state of high demand. It can be a rollercoaster of emotion. In the midst of all that, it’s important to find a way to have fun. Having a sense of humor is essential for keeping the stress level in check. Enjoy laughing at the craziness of life.

5. Endurance

Survival experts will tell you that the most important way to survive in perilous situations is the drive never to quit. Galatians 6:9 encourages us: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Always keep your eyes on the destination and don’t stop until you get there. Falling short is not an option. The minute you let negativity enter your mind, it will become self-fulfilling prophesy. In fatherhood, it’s important to have the same mentality. Engage, engage, engage. Never stop initiating with your family, caring for their needs, and nurturing their hearts with life-giving, unconditional love. Our opportunity for influence is short, but the impact will touch generations.

Sound off: What skills have helped you survive fatherhood?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are you looking forward to most about tomorrow, and what are you not looking forward to?”