In high school, I took a speech and debate class. As one of our assignments, I had to give a persuasive speech. I was excited about it and worked really hard to deliver a great presentation. I researched my subject and organized my thoughts. However, as I presented my case, I felt like something was missing. My speech didn’t have the power and persuasion I had hoped for. Afterward, I asked my teacher what he thought. He said it was fine—not great, not terrible, just fine. I was bummed, but he gave me a list of things I could have done better.
As a dad, do you want your kids to say that you were fine? Do you want them to say, “Yeah, he was OK,” or do you want to be great? The last thing I want to be as a dad is just OK. What makes a great father? Several things. And what stops a dad from growing into one? Lots of other things—and here are 5 of them.Being consistent in love, words, discipline, and routines earns your kids’ trust and gives them security.
1. A Lack of Consistency
When I was in my 20s, I knew a husband and father I really respected. His approach to parenting is something I really admired. I asked him what he thought the most important part of parenting is. He said a lot of things, but what stood out to me was the word consistency. Being consistent in love, words, discipline, and routines earns your kids’ trust and gives them security.
2. A Loss of Focus
I’ll be honest—I like to check out. My favorite thing to do is sit and do nothing. Well, maybe there’s one thing I like doing more. But I can sit and channel surf, get lost in my phone, or even stare at the sky for hours. And sometimes that’s OK. We all need to unplug occasionally. But we can’t make it a habit because our time with our kids is short. We need to take advantage of that time and be intentional with our days, hours, and minutes. Every empty nester I know has told me how fast it goes. Let’s heed that wisdom and not lose focus.
3. Being Reactive Instead of Taking Initiative
This is a demanding time in our lives. There’s a lot coming at us: kids, marriage, career, bills, aging parents. It can be overwhelming, but we can’t be pulled into the habit of just reacting to the chaos. It reduces our ability to respond with wisdom and temperance. We have to budget time to sit, think, and plan. Plan out the experiences you want to have as a family, the things you need to teach your kids, and the conversations you need to have. Think through what type of dad you want to be and what you need to do to be that man. If you don’t take the initiative, you’ll never be that man.
4. Shying Away From Difficulty
I’ve asked a lot of dads if they have talked to their kids about sex. An answer I get often is as follows: “Nope. Not going near that one.” But the best leaders are the ones who step into difficulty. It doesn’t mean they always get it right, but they have the will to go there. Our kids need us to initiate conversations that are uncomfortable, and not just about sex. They need to see our emotions, weaknesses, and vulnerability. Otherwise, they will go to someone else for support when life gets hard.
5. Striving for Good Enough
A friend of mine once performed as a really funny character at a youth camp. He was a superhero called Slightly Better Than Average Man. He had a B- on his chest. He’d come in and say, “I’m adequate, but barely.” It’s time to look in the mirror. What standard have we set? Are we doing the bare minimum or are we striving for excellence? Are we adequate, but barely? Even when we do well, we probably only hit about 90% of what we strive for. What grade do you want your kids to put on your chest?
Sound off: What makes a great father?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some things I could do to be a better dad?”