Being a Committed Dad is “Far Past Amazing”

 

Here at the Center, we consider it “Father’s Day season” as soon as Mother’s Day is over. Among other things, our staff is finishing up interviews with dads and making arrangements for celebration events in several areas of the country related to our Father of the Year Essay Contests.

These contests give kids opportunities to write about their dads, and we’re always amazed at the remarkable, heartfelt things they write. We probably don’t pass along the great essays often enough.

So, even though we’re still a month out from Father’s Day, I want to share one girl’s essay to help you start getting in the right frame of mind—not so you can swell up with pride, but so you can make this “season” a time to recommit yourself to be the father your children really need.

How to be a good dadAs you might know, our purpose is to inspire and equip dads. But I’ll tell you up front, this week is pure inspiration. I think you’ll agree.

In this essay, a 6th grader named Abigail does a wonderful job of capturing the love and appreciation kids feel for their dads, like what your child surely feels for you.

So, just soak this in today. Abigail writes:

My dad makes me feel loved. I can always count on my dad. He makes me laugh so hard…. Most of the time, my dad’s actions speak louder than life.

My dad is a short, stubby man, but his smile goes from the east to the west. He makes really, really bad jokes, but we always laugh. He acts sometimes, [imitates] singers, and even tries to dance. But he makes his imitations really bad on purpose to make us laugh. He laughs at things I say even if they’re not meant to be funny. That makes me laugh.

My dad has all the qualities of a great guy. He’s so truthful, honorable, and trustworthy. I can always count on him. He even understands what I’m talking about most of the time.

My dad sees everyone for who they are. He won’t judge people but always learns their personalities first. He helps people he doesn’t know, and he’s always nice to strangers. My dad is kind and always helpful.

My dad is awesome, fantastic, and phenomenal. I love my dad. He’s far from perfect, but far past amazing.

Now, after reading this, I was humbled as a dad. And two things came to mind that challenged me:

First, it reminded me that our kids are always watching us. They see the good and the not-so-good in our lives. They know we’re far from perfect. And we never know what will register in their minds as significant or even life-changing. That’s the power and the great responsibility of our modeling.

And second, I hope this draws out the best in you as a dad, like it does in me. Like Abigail’s dad, we make a difference when we make our kids laugh, show kindness to people, and prove ourselves to be trustworthy. Our general disposition has a powerful effect on our children—whether they are tiny infants or teens whom we may have to look up to. Be a joyful father, and let it show!

Fatherhood is a high calling, and something to live up to. I hope you’ll find ways to be “far past amazing” for your kids today.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Do something crazy to have fun with your kids and make them laugh. Do karaoke. Start a water fight, or a pillow fight, or a food fight! Play dress up. Have a whistling contest after eating saltine crackers. Use your own idea. (Then let us know how it went.)
  • Write an essay about how much you appreciate each of your children, and show it to them (or save it for Father’s Day).
  • What would your children say is your biggest weakness as a dad? (If you don’t know, ask them!) Be intentional about working on that area during the next month … and beyond.
  • How do you treat restaurant servers and other people in service positions during day-to-day interactions? Remember, your children are always watching and learning.
  • Come up with a “Father’s Day wish list” that includes a lot of activities with family and gifts of time—along with or instead of expensive gadgets.

What challenges you about this essay? Or, when have you been inspired or challenged as a dad because of something your child said or wrote to you? Please let us (and other dads) know by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

 

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.

One Question that Can Help You Be a Better Dad

 

Our annual essay contest always brings out some amazing thoughts from kids. Sometimes the essays make you laugh out loud; sometimes they break your heart.

And quite often you get a nugget or two about how to be a better dad. This week, I want to pass along one of those:

The essay is by Eric, a high school senior, who starts out his essay with a quote from his dad: “Did you learn anything?” That’s what Eric’s dad always says whenever Eric makes a mistake or messes up something. Here’s how Eric stated it:

This quote was quickly thrown out with a smile every time I did something wrong in childhood. My dad has always been more concerned about me learning from past experiences than [punishing me] when I actually goof up. I remember in grade school when I ran our riding lawn mower into a tree because I had been texting. Instead of a [long] lecture, my dad just smiled and threw out the old faithful quote: “Did you learn anything?” Needless to say, I have not run my car into a tree because I was texting.

I like this approach for so many reasons. When a child messes up, too often we feel like we have to make him feel bad or show him who’s boss. But if we really have his best interests in mind, we’ll take the longer view. We’ll maximize the chances that he’ll learn something he can use later in life.

And just in case you missed them, let me emphasize a few things Eric pointed out about his dad.

First, he used the question, “Did you learn anything?” instead of a lecture. He didn’t go off on him or say “Why aren’t you more responsible?” five times in five different ways. He used a strategic question and let it have its effect.

Then, second, Eric’s dad said this with a smile. Boy, that’s tough … but it’s so important. When our kids mess up, too often we make our anger and disappointment the main issue. And the kids inevitably respond with their own fit out of embarrassment or shame. But if we can stay calm and smile, it can change the mood entirely.

Dad, try it next time your child messes up. Don’t lecture, put a smile on your face, and ask, “Did you learn anything?”

Maybe our dads’ lectures worked on us … and maybe they didn’t. But today’s kids need to be heard and understood. (And they’re usually smart enough to know what they did wrong.) Sometimes they do need to hear truth from us, but often a dialogue or a thoughtful question will get through to them and teach them much more effectively—and greatly increase the likelihood that they’ll come back to you next time they have a question.

Do you have questions or sayings you use to help your child learn from mistakes? Or … here’s a good one … how do you keep your cool when your kids mess up? Please join the discussion either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Whenever you feel like lecturing your child, listen first. Make sure you understand—and your child feels heard—before you start talking.
  • Do you know your child’s learning style, and what makes her feel loved? If not, pick up a good book on those topics—such as the ones here and here—and discuss what you learn with her mom or someone else who knows your child well.
  • When your child is speaking, imagine that he’s one of your good friends. Would you lecture or correct your friend when he’s made a mistake or experienced some difficulty? It’s different with our children, but this can be a helpful perspective.
  • Some other great questions: “What do you think might work?” “What are the options?” “Have you considered …?”

 

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.

Everyday Heroes: It’s an Honor to Be a Good Father (and Father Figure)

 

Leading up to Father’s Day, we’re honoring everyday heroes—real dads who are great examples of Championship Fathering. This week’s example is an amazing story that demonstrates fatherhood at its very best…

It starts with a boy named Gage, whose biological father left when he was very young. Gage rarely saw his dad and was often left waiting for him to show up.

Gage’s mom had a close friend from college who had three children of her own, and who was married to an everyday hero named Ivan. The two families occasionally spent time together, so Gage and Ivan got to know each other.

As Gage grew older, like many fatherless kids he started thinking about what he was missing. So, at age five, with his mother’s encouragement, Gage approached Ivan one day and asked him, “Will you be my father?

Ivan responded, “I would be honored to.”

I suspect that Ivan was caught a little bit off guard, but when he said “Yes” to that young boy’s request, he meant it. Gage graduated from high school this year, and Ivan has truly been his dad for all those years.

Even though he was plenty busy with three other children, Ivan managed to attend Gage’s little league games, choir performances and spelling bees, even if it meant taking off work. He invited him to come on family outings and vacations. Ivan has taught him about manhood—accepting responsibility, being honest, sincere and trustworthy.

Even though they are of different races, Ivan will often introduce Gage as his son, and he doesn’t care who hears it. Gage says that really makes him feel special.

Dad, I hope Ivan’s story inspires you like it inspires me. There are all kinds of lessons we can take away from Ivan’s example. Of course, it starts by giving your best to your own children. Then, I hope you’ll take action as an everyday hero for other kids around you who need your fatherly influence.

It’s a huge thing when you tell a child, “I’m honored to be your father.” It’s important for two reasons:

First, it reminds you of your responsibility to love them, serve them, and sacrifice for them. It creates a sense of duty. You’ll find the strength to play catch with your son after a 10-hour day, or stick it out when your teenager is suddenly hard to love. You’ll always be there for them, because that’s what fathers do. And telling them

Second, kids need to hear and see your pride and commitment. When you affirm and claim children through spoken words, written words, actions, and prayers, you’re giving them a confidence and a strong sense of belonging that will help them as they mature.

This Father’s Day, renew your commitment to love your children, coach them, and be a great model of character for them. Then step forward and encourage another child who may need you. Chances are, it probably won’t involve the kind of commitment and sacrifice that Ivan has made … but it might! Don’t let that stop you. I feel confident that, just like Ivan, you won’t regret it.

Does Ivan inspire you, too? Or are you doing something similar with another child? Please tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Everyday Heroes:

  • The next time your child asks you to do something for him or her (and it’s not an unreasonable request), respond by saying, “I’d be honored to.”
  • As you receive Father’s Day gifts this year, respond with something like, “Thank you. But it’s really a privilege just to be your dad.”
  • Whenever you introduce your child to others, do so with great pride: “This is my son.” “This is my daughter.”
  • We all know unfathered children—a neighbor, a family friend, a boy or girl at church or on our child’s team. Invite one to join your family in an activity or find some other way to encourage that child and be a fatherly influence.
  • Wherever you are, keep a watch out for children outside your family who may need a fatherly influence, and be willing to speak a word of encouragement, give a gentle challenge, teach a skill, or do other common father-actions.

 

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.