I was at a staff lunch a few weeks ago just to say thanks to my teammates for all their hard work through a busy season. During our lunch, we ordered some appetizers, and one of our staff members said she didn’t want to try one. What’s ironic is that earlier, she’d mentioned that her daughter is stubborn and doesn’t like to try new things. I said to her, “Well, now we know why your daughter doesn’t like to try new things!” As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
It hit me in that conversation that, like my coworker, as dads, we pass on a lot more to our kids than we realize. Some of this may be intentional, but a great majority of what we pass on to our kids is unintentional. If we’re not careful, there can be some unintended, negative consequences. It’s critical to learn how to be more involved in your child’s life. Here are 3 reasons we need to step up our games as dads.
1. Kids will copy you.
Most lessons our kids learn are more caught than taught. Chances are you say and do the same things you saw your dad do. Those experiences are etched in your mind. This doesn’t have to be all bad, of course. We can be more involved in our kids’ lives and give them great experiences. Let them see you doing positive things like serving others, trying new things, or giving generously to those in need. Take an inventory this week. What are your kids not just hearing from you but seeing and experiencing? Is that the impression you want to give them about you as they get older? Is it who you want them to be?
SSooner or later, our kids are going to find out whether we’re all talk or we really do walk the walk.
2. Kids will figure you out eventually.
Our kids are smarter than we think about our genuineness or hypocrisy. Sooner or later, our kids are going to find out whether we’re all talk or we really do walk the walk. I’m sure you did as well with your dad. I work with a lot of students and the students who have the best relationships with their parents say their dads are open with them, honest, and do what they say they’re going to do. Is there anything in your life you’d be embarrassed to explain if your kids found out about it? If so, my suggestion is to change that immediately.
3. Kids want to be like you.
Here’s a bit of good news: Your kids’ hearts are hardwired to look to you first for love, inspiration, security, and so many other things. They want to be like you. You are a role model. You have the first opportunity to direct their views on so many issues and questions. But, if you don’t take that role seriously, they will find someone else. If kids have a poor role model or no role model, they’ll eventually fill that void with someone. That “someone” may not be who you want your kids looking up to. So give your kids someone to look up to. Be someone who inspires them. Whatever character traits you envision as greatness, model them every day and be actively involved in your kids’ lives. You certainly don’t need to be perfect. Just be positive, genuine, and inspiring.
Sound off: What types of negative or positive traits did you learn from your dad?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who is your biggest role model and why?”