In November 2014, NFL quarterback Carson Palmer planted his left leg while unleashing a pass. He felt a pop as the ACL in his left knee tore for the second time in less than a decade. Three days following surgery, the 35-year-old began to rehabilitate his injured leg, determined to return to the field. The next fall, after working hard to regain his strength, Palmer thrived, winning a career-best 13 games and throwing for more yards and touchdowns than any other season in his 14-year NFL career.
Most of us are not professional athletes, but if we emulate Palmer, we’ll thrive off the field—in fatherhood. The traits of a good father do not always come naturally. It takes discipline and dedication to be the best dad you can be. Here are 5 traits found in dads who thrive.
1. Thriving dads are patient.
I remember the day our daughter decided to use the kitchen floor as her toilet. The toddler was totally disinterested in potty training. We asked her to walk to the bathroom, but she ignored the (reasonable) request, defiantly spread her legs, and peed right next to the refrigerator without breaking eye contact. It was frustrating, and tested our patience, but yelling wasn’t going to soak up the mess. Being patient is hard, but I think dads who can stay calm under duress are illustrating what I believe God has for us—patience. God has been patient with me. I make all kinds of mistakes with my wife and kids. I am thankful for his patience and think we should show the same patience to our kids. The apostle Paul spoke about this in Ephesians, which says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”It may seem insignificant, but each conversation conveys to your kids that they matter, and you notice them.
2. Thriving dads listen.
Kids are constantly looking for attention. They want to capture your interest. Their actions subtly beg, “Do you care enough about me to notice me?” One of the best ways to affirm we care for them is to listen to what they have to say. It may seem insignificant, but each conversation conveys to your kids that they matter, and you notice them.
3. Thriving dads are slow to fix.
Men tend to swoop in and fix things. We see a problem, we identify a solution, and we patch things up. It’s kind of in our nature. But, sometimes, we need to let our kids figure out how to solve their own problems. Our kids won’t become better spellers if we are constantly telling them the answer. They won’t master fishing if we don’t let them hold the rod and reel. When things feel broken, it is nice to be the one who glues it all back together. But struggles aren’t always a bad thing and can offer many lessons. Don’t rob your kids of learning experiences by being the hero in every situation.
4. Thriving dads prioritize.
Work. Bills. Travel. Dads have many responsibilities. But the best dads understand the importance of managing priorities. Yes, the lawn needs to be mowed, but your son wants to play chess. Yes, you could do laundry, but your daughter wants to ride bikes. Prioritizing is one of the traits of a good father. Jesus believed that. Mark 9:35 records Jesus telling his disciples to prioritize serving others over even their own well-being. “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all,” he said. As dads, we need to decipher what matters most and allocate our time accordingly.
5. Thriving dads save money.
Is it nice to grab some coffee on the way to work? Sure. Is it smart? Not if you do it all the time. Spending unnecessarily is not a good habit to fall into. Yet, according to a 2021 survey by Bankrate, 25% of Americans have zero emergency funds. You will regret not having set money aside when it’s time to take a child to the dentist or on a field trip, or when the family minivan needs new tires. It’s also a blessing to teach your kids the joy of giving money away to people in need. That’s not possible if you don’t save some of your cash.
Sound off: What are some other traits of being a good father?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it takes to thrive in life?”