Be a Good Dad: Help Your Kids Remember Who They Are

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Not long ago I witnessed something that really inspired me. My bride Melanie and I were spending the evening with another couple. They had two young-adult kids who joined us for dinner, then were going out to do something else while the older folk stayed and talked.

As the two kids prepared to leave, the dad told them, “Remember who you are.” He said it almost casually, like “See you later,” or, “Drive safe.” And he apparently said that to them all the time. Those were the parting words he wanted to leave them with: Remember who you are.

But as I thought about it … that’s deep! This dad instilled the idea in his kids that they were carrying the family name—and he wanted them to also carry the family’s values—as they went out and saw friends and made choices. I’m sure he hoped that thought would make a difference to them, and from everything I can tell, it has.

I can think of too many people today who aren’t remembering who they are—celebrities, athletes, politicians, and even unknown people who make the news for embarrassing or irresponsible reasons. They’re doing all kinds of crazy stuff, and you have to assume they’re going against what their parents taught them.

Of course, it’s also true that we have too many people running around who don’t know who they are. They never had the benefit of a father or father figure to guide them, encourage them and hold them accountable.

But dads, I think the lesson for us is clear: we can use similar words to challenge and remind our children about the legacy they have and their calling to live with integrity. Maybe you can use this one yourself: “Remember who you are.”

When your daughter is offered drugs in the high school hallways, you want her to remember who she is. When your son gets called for a foul in a basketball game and he’s convinced it was a terrible call, you want him to remember who he is. When your children see a friend who is hurting or in need, you want them to think of that phrase and do the right thing. You want them to think about who they are and how other people see them, and you hope they’ll take that thought with them to college and beyond.

My pop did something similar, except his version was only one word long: “Watch.” That was his way of saying, Be careful. Don’t take life lightly. Don’t get hurt because you weren’t paying attention to something important. Usually, we’d hear it when someone we knew got in trouble.

Like my dad and my friend, maybe you can use something similar as a regular reminder as your kids leave for school, a date, or out with friends: “Remember who you are.” “Watch.”

Do you have something similar you say to your kids when you want to challenge them and remind them to behave? Or did your father have one that he used? Please share it with me below or at our Facebook page.


Action Points to help you be a good dad:

  • Tell your children about something you remember your father (or a father figure) saying to you often. What did that statement mean to you?
  • Decide on a saying or slogan that’s meaningful for your family. Repeat it often, and consider posting it prominently, possibly framed or on plaque, in your home.
  • Try a similar statement to encourage a child who doesn’t have a dad.
  • If a saying like “Remember who you are” becomes a regular reminder for your child to make good choices in the future, be sure to also give him plenty of positive affirmations of the character and talents he already has.
  • As you consider ways to pass on a legacy of positive character to your children, keep these three factors in mind: 1) the values you’re seeking to transmit; 2) how you can help your child transition to adulthood someday; 3) the goal of truly reaching and impacting your children, not simply giving them a slogan.
  • To really impact and motivate your child, you also need to build a strong connection. Schedule some fun, one-on-one activities with each of your children.


Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.



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  1. Mark D. Gallagher says:

    Hello fellow fathers, I sympathize with everyone’s individual story. Each and every one of us is dealing with pain, suffering, helplessness and very little or no support in a system that 90% of the time favors women regardless of who the victim might be. I am writing as a victim. Maybe I brought it upon myself and maybe I brought out the true colors of a truly evil woman. All I know now is that I am far better off without her and much happier knowing that she is someone else’s problem now.
    My story is similar to many but unique in many ways as well. I had a very demanding, promising and exemplary military career but was injured a number of times in combat. I had a very supportive immediate and close family. My wounds affected me initially in a physically way the most but over time my state of mind was effected as well. The Army put me on a pretty good cocktail of medications that have had interesting side effects and I ended up medically retiring with 18 active years of faithful service as a CW3 and 60% disabled. The VA assessed my disabilities at 80% disabled and I was drawing full Social Security Disability until I finally rehabilitated myself physically to work a job I actually love doing. My ex-wife hung in there for a long time, I am eternally grateful for her sacrifices, for taking care of me during some of the toughest times of my life, and was patient with me but my conditions wore her down to the point that divorce became imminent. In sickness and in health didn’t sound so good when she became knee deep in it day after day for a few years.
    We ‘short saled’ our house in Hawaii, took a $100.000.00 loss on it to live closer to her mother and shortly after she got hooked up with her old crew on her old stomping grounds. It wasn’t long before she was also hooked up with her high school sweetheart. While in for surgery to have shrapnel removed from my abdomen, have a colostomy reversal and discectomy on a bulging disk in my back, my ex-wife dropped the divorce bomb and nearly cleaned out the house while I was in the hospital. When I returned home, via a taxi, I barely recognized my home, more importantly my daughter was gone as well. My entire support system was gone. I had no choice but to hire a worthless nurse to recover, lived on pain killers and Boost Energy drinks for a week before mustering up the energy to start moving around further than standing over the bedside toilet.
    About a week later my ex-wife shows up at the house with her degenerate son, mother (married 4 or 5 times as well), and the boyfriend to move out the remainder of what she believed she was entitled to. I barely had the energy to argue no less deal with what was about to come. After each of them began a campaign of sneaking items out of the house and hiding them in every crevasse they could (under car seats, packed in the bottom of boxes, etc.) I became irate and called the police. The boyfriend had the nerve to attack me in my own home, while I still had over a dozen staples holding my abdomen shut. Fellow Marine none the less (Semper Fidelis brother). Needless to say, they all took off for Texas and refused to tell me where they were going.
    It took $450.00 and a private investigator to finally find my daughter and ex-wife in Wylie Texas against a court order to not leave the state of Arkansas. My own daughter was lying to me and said that she was living with ”Mom’s Girlfriend with a Cooper car”and not the boyfriend. It took until the beginning of January to finalize the divorce paperwork after my ex-wife returned the car I was paying for and finally allowed me to speak with and see my daughter over Christmas.
    As part of the divorce I could only see my daughter twice a year if we lived in separate states, not expecting her to move to Texas. So, I packed up everything and moved to Texas to spend two weekends a month and school lunches with my daughter. That lasted for one visitation period when my ex-wife decided to conspire with an organized crime organization in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to have me killed in order to collect on the insurance money. Again, as part of the divorce decree she was supposed to provide the necessary documentation to remove herself from my life insurance plans but refused to do so. Yes, she had to execute the necessary documentation and have it notarized.
    As a result of defending my life against two armed attackers, I was charged with Felony Deadly Conduct awaiting an outcome while out on bail. Simultaneously as the Grand Jury was meeting to decide on indicting me for this incident my ex-wife dropped a request for a Protective Order, full of nothing substantial what-so-ever. The Judge never bothered to read the request and simply granted it based on my indictment. Chances are the request also effected the Grand Jury decision as well.
    So, I have had no visitation with my daughter for over 6 months and for an indefinite amount of time will not even be allowed to speak with her, get updates on her health or status, I have effectively been removed from the parenting process all together.
    What a brilliant plan my ex-wife hatched against me. She certainly knows how to take down a ship and has brought me to my knees. Not only am I facing jail time but I also have the possibility of an organized crime organization threatening my life at any time. To add the icing on this wonderful cake of a story, just prior to my ex-wife and I separating, she got pregnant. Now, I’m pretty sure the child isn’t mine because we decided it was best that I get a vasectomy because she was certain that she didn’t want to have any more children since she had 3 already and two or three abortions. Now she has 4 children, all with different fathers. Interestingly enough she knew she was pregnant prior to finalizing the divorce paperwork but hid that from me and the courts as well. Very clever; the divorce would never have ben completed if anyone one of us knew she was pregnant.
    If anyone has seen the movie Sam I Am with Sean Penn, I really am the character Sean Penn plays. I love my daughter with all of my heart and have become homeless and bankrupt fighting for her and won’t give up. There is one person and one person only in this world who remotely cares about any of this and that is me. My extended family has written me off as a liar and a lunatic. My daughter is scared to death of me because her mother is filling her head with whatever will drive a wedge between us. I consider this brainwashing campaign to be child abuse but Child Protective Services could care less.
    At this point if it wasn’t for the beautiful younger, spiritually and physically attractive girlfriend I have and my strong faith in God, I probably would have given up a long time ago. Oh, my two dogs are a portion of my therapy keep me going every day as well. If there was ever an awesome screenplay for a movie, my story would warn millions of men that they can be the victim and if they piss off their significant other enough, she can and will turn your life into a living hell because the system is on her side.
    Take the time to watch the movie Sam I am. I am perceived as a predator and that is the furthest thing from the truth. This is probably falling on deaf ears, but if there is someone out there who may need someone to talk to. I am available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to listen. Never give up, keep doing the right thing and even though today’s society is built on lying, cheating and stealing ( from the case workers, to the lawyers, to Law enforcement and even what got the Judge to be sitting on that Throne), remember that those are the only things that you can protect and control yourself and no one can take those from things from you. Even though I face that every day, I refuse to lie, cheat or steal and it will probably be what sinks this ship. They can take everything they want away from me but they will not take my dignity.

    • I *almost* totally agree. I have a stetuadghper and my first on the way, and your articles are awesome.The main thing is, of course, to do what feels right. I wouldnt do a homebirth because I dont feel either my wife or myself have the coping ability to deal with it. On the other hand, growing our own food is something I totally agree with and want to constantly push on people Remind me at the end of the month to swap links with you when I get my blog set up on the new domain

  2. Jennifer Yes, the homebirth optoin (especially unassisted) is not for everyone, and is one that I don’t mention often, as many people have experiences that refute my own. I just think homebirth is worthy of being considered and unassisted birth is something that really needs to be thought through.

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