One Big Key to Effective Discipline—and How to Use It

 

Correcting and disciplining children will always be challenging for fathers. In today’s busy times and with so many outside forces competing for our children’s attention and allegiance, training our kids has never been more important.

In the moment, we want them to obey us, stop fighting with each other, and/or avoid destroying property. But we know discipline has a bigger purpose: we want our children to end up as responsible, caring adults who are prepared to thrive in the world.

Here at the Center, we have some helpful articles and recommended resources on discipline, and you’d be wise to do some research and figure out what works best for you and your family.

That really is the most critical action point when it comes to discipline: have a plan. Your children’s future (and their children’s future) is at stake. I often use the Benjamin Franklin line: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” and it’s so applicable here! You can’t afford to father by the seat of your pants … so to speak.

One Big Key to Effective DisciplineWhy is a plan so important? Because it sets clear boundaries and expectations for your children: “When you do this, this is the consequence.” And as a father, when your plan is fully developed, no situation will catch you (or your child) by surprise. You won’t find yourself negotiating with your child or trying to think of appropriate consequences; the plan is in place. Furthermore, you can relate to your child with empathy instead of anger, since the plan is what is making his life difficult, not you.

What are some qualities of a good plan?

1) It is developed together by the child’s dad and mom, if possible, and can include input from the child.

2) It is clearly communicated to the child before it is implemented, with explanations about how it applies to specific situations.

3) Then, of course, the plan has to be used. The child can’t be let out of the negative consequences. The parent calmly makes it clear that the child, by his actions, chose those consequences. (That’s a big part of learning responsibility.)

4) It is flexible and adaptable as needs and situations change.

Here are a few examples that might illustrate how this works.

A dad has a 15-year-old daughter who isn’t doing well in her school work and her behavior. The dad wants to help her learn to be responsible, so he takes away her cell phone. The daughter is furious and doesn’t speak to him for two weeks.

Taking a teenager’s cell phone for poor choices is an appropriate consequence. But having a plan in place beforehand may have helped this dad avoid a major rift in their relationship.

Imagine how things would go if a dad and mom sit down with their daughter when she first gets her cell phone, and together they lay out a plan: Having a phone comes with conditions related to her behavior, her school work, and demonstrating responsibility in other ways. Maybe they even ask her, “What kind of behaviors will demonstrate that you’re responsible enough to have a cell phone?” They lay out the plan in specifics, and she agrees to it as a condition of having her own phone. That’s the plan.

Then, when the daughter starts slipping, it won’t be a surprise when things get hard for her. Dad and Mom are just working the plan, and it isn’t very likely that she’ll be mad at them—at least not for very long. She’ll be more likely to see that she’s the one who made the poor choices and she needs to make changes going forward.

The steps apply to situations with toddlers, ten-year-olds and beyond.

For example, after talking with your child’s mom, you might tell your child, “We’re having trouble getting you out of bed and ready for school. So from now on, if you don’t make it down in time for breakfast, we’ll assume that means you don’t want to eat. And if you can’t get up and be ready in time to leave, that probably means you aren’t getting enough sleep. We’ll just move your bedtime to an hour earlier. The child will either get up earlier, or he’ll expect some changes in his daily routine.

Dad, there’s no better time than right now to sit down and start putting together your plan.

Which of these examples rings true for you? What are your best practices when it comes to discipline? Please share your thoughts either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Make your expectations of your children’s behavior very clear. Spell them out in minute detail, if necessary, so there’s no doubt.
  • Be eager to notice and point out your children’s strengths; celebrate their accomplishments; toast their successes.
  • How does discipline and correction look with teenagers? Read about the “Good Neighbor” approach.
  • Make every effort to be united with your children’s mother in your discipline approach. Don’t leave any room for your kids to bring in doubt or manipulate the situation.
  • Think of a new area of responsibility to give your child, even if it’s on a trial basis.

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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How Dads Can Build a Close Bond

 

In last week’s blog I highlighted some recent research about the most important factor when it comes to passing our faith and values on to our children…

It isn’t regular teaching sessions, or setting the right example, or involving kids in larger communities that promote those values, like a church.

All those things are important, but the biggest key is a warm, close connection between the child and his father. I have kept thinking about this ground-breaking insight, and I believe there’s more I can do to help you apply this in practical ways with your children.

How Dads Can Build that Close BondFor example, what is a “warm” relationship with your child? What does it look like? How can you tell if you have one?

I was talking with another dad on our staff about this, and our discussion led to questions like, What’s the atmosphere when you’re together? Are you approachable as a dad? Is there a general feeling of easiness and acceptance, or tension and distance?

All relationships go through seasons where we feel more distant or more comfortable being together. But I think you probably know the overriding mood between you and your kids.

I think this is a real challenge for dads—based on my own experiences as a father and conversations I’ve had with other guys. We too easily get caught up in the daily schedule and the challenges of life, or we get distracted by our gadgets, or there’s some other factor that makes us impatient or snippy with our kids. Or we get into negative patterns that we don’t think we can change, and so we settle in and just get through the days. If our children aren’t getting our very best, well at least we’re providing the basic things they need.

That’s understandable, but it isn’t our best as fathers, and it isn’t ideal for children as they go through life. They need us to be fully engaged, creating the kind of bond that gives them confidence and security. They don’t need to be worrying with questions like, What’s up with Dad? Or, Why can’t I ever do enough to please him?

So, how do we create the kind of warmth that brings the other great benefits? Every relationship is different, and I’d be foolish if I said there was a four-step formula. But I also want to share what seems to work for me, and I hope these will be helpful for you:

- Make your kids a high priority, and let it show. I know you love your kids, but I also know they can tell when you’d rather be doing something besides hanging out with them.

Just imagine what they’re thinking and feeling when you’re willing to put aside what you’re doing because you really do enjoy being with them! That’s when they start trusting you more, opening up about what’s going on in their lives, and seeking you out to do things. Sure, it takes a lot of effort and energy, but it’s worth it.

- Enter their world. Your children probably have hobbies and interests that are not what you naturally enjoy. The kids can do things for hours that would bore you in five minutes.

This is a real challenge for me, but the times when I really invest myself in finding out more about what my son enjoys and why he enjoys it, pretty soon it becomes interesting and fun for me, too. And I often see a side of him that I hadn’t noticed before. I can tell that my effort to enter his world is affirming for him, and it adds a sense of greater understanding and comfort to our friendship. I’m less likely to talk down to him as a silly, immature kid, and I’m more likely to show respect for who he is.

- Push things deeper and risk discomfort. There are some situations that are easier to avoid or let someone else handle. But if you’re going to have that close connection with your children, you can’t sit on the sidelines or assume they will get the wisdom they need on their own. You have to be willing to push beyond the everyday, ordinary interactions and address the tough issues.

Maybe it’s having an involved discussion about your beliefs or about dangerous behaviors that other kids are getting into. Maybe it’s taking a stand and holding your child accountable with hard consequences.

On the other side, maybe it means expressing love and appreciation for your children from your heart, even though, based on your personality or your upbringing, it might feel unnatural or “unmanly” to say, “I love you” or give your kids hugs and kisses. Don’t assume they know how much you love them! Go deeper and speak those words they need to hear. Or start with fist bumps and squeezes on the shoulder as you work up to bear hugs.

- Maintain a steady demeanor—not too high or low. My dad really had this one down. He didn’t get overly excited when I did something well, and he didn’t go crazy when I messed up. I definitely knew when he was happy or disappointed with me, but nothing really changed the overall mood of our relationship.

This is also important because your kids will go through a lot of changes and adjustments. Your five-year-old might think you’re the coolest guy on the planet, and then your teenager might want nothing to do with you. Stay consistent and keep doing what you know is best through all the ups and downs. The relationship may change through the years, and it will probably feel different, but your child doesn’t need you any less.

Dad, what’s have I missed here? What is your secret for building that close bond with your kids? Please give me some feedback either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Take genuine interest in something your child enjoys, especially if it isn’t something that naturally appeals to you. Spend a good half hour checking it out and asking your child about it, what appeals to her, etc.
  • Ask someone who knows your family well—your child’s mom or another close friend—“Would you say my kids and I are close?” “What makes you say that?”
  • Make plans for a one-on-one outing with each of your kids in the next few weeks—something they enjoy, where you can just have fun and laugh together.
  • Initiate a discussion with your child—in terms appropriate for his/her age—about a topic that’s important to you or a lesson you learned the hard way.
  • Get feedback on 13 specific areas of your fathering—and action plans for the ones you may need to address—using our Championship Fathering Profile (CFP).

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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The Secret for Passing Your Beliefs on to Your Kids

 

What’s the best way to pass your faith and your values to your children?

I know that’s a huge concern for many fathers. One of my top goals as a dad is that my children would embrace the faith that I have tried to live out. And even if religion isn’t your thing, today’s message still has a big insight for your fathering, so please stay with me.

Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across GenerationsIn the recent book Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations, Vern Bengtson presents some eye-opening discoveries about “religious transmission.” Based on his research involving more than 3,500 people whose lives covered more than a century, he found that the pivotal factor” in whether children continue their parents’ faith is a strong bond with their father.

When it comes to training kids in matters of faith and morals, we might typically think of teaching them right from wrong, emphasizing obedience to specific rules and expectations, and being a reliable role model for right behavior.

How to Be a Father Secret for Passing Your Beliefs on to Your KidsBut Bengtson found that, while all those things are significant, they aren’t sufficient if there isn’t a strong emotional bond between the parent and child. A warm, close relationship with one’s father makes the most difference in regard to passing on religious faith—even more than a good relationship with one’s mother.

The same also appears to be true in nonreligious families: a strong emotional father-child bond creates the best chance for transmitting beliefs and values on to the next generation. (And while my examples and illustrations here describe a religious home, you can apply these principles to different approaches to faith and values.)

Doesn’t his point about relational warmth make perfect sense?

How many people do you know who were raised in religious homes, but through the years their fathers were too busy—at work, doing hobbies, or even serving in the church—to build a strong relationship? It’s typical for those kids to resist their dads’ desires, especially in faith matters. They will likely resent their fathers’ efforts to be leaders in faith matters, and may view their dads as hypocrites.

Since the religious training isn’t backed up with a solid, caring relationship, the children may fight against everything Dad stands for. Some of that will happen with teenagers anyway, but as dads, we need to learn from this.

One of my favorite sayings is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s especially true among the people in our homes. To pass on a legacy that includes faith or a system of values, we have to focus on building solid relationships with our kids.

They need much more than a list of rules and principles. Those times of teaching, worship and/or prayer are certainly important. But don’t forget, dad, to also build a strong relationship, so your children will want to follow in your footsteps. They need love to hold it all together.

How can you build that closeness in practical terms? Here are a few ideas in this week’s Action Points:

  • Set up a habit of doing something together, one-on-one, that your child will look forward to. It could be breakfast out on Saturdays, frozen yogurt every other Monday, or something similar. Let your child choose the food or activity.
  • “Take a kid along” when you head to the hardware store, the auto mechanic, the grocery store. Away from the rest of the family, you’ll have more of each other’s attention. And if something happens where you get to model honesty or service to someone else, that’s a bonus.
  • Tell your stories to your kids—about experiences, events and conversations that have shaped your beliefs through the years.
  • Talk about dreams—yours and theirs. What is happening in your community or in the world, and how do your beliefs provide hope and meaning even in uncertain times? And how might your child be able to make a difference during his or her life?
  • Be involved in whatever ways you can. When you’re there through the ups and downs of life, you’ll become a reliable point of reference for your child.

What’s your secret for building that close bond with your kids? What has worked when it comes to passing on your beliefs? Please help other dads by leaving a comment either below or on our Facebook page.

 

Read Carey’s “part 2″ of this blog, “How Dads Can Build a Close Bond.”

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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7 “Simple” Ways to Handle Conflict (& Prepare Kids for Life)

 

How well do you handle conflict, dad?

When faced with tense situations, many guys withdraw or avoid confrontations. Some do the opposite—they lose control or explode, and do damage to those around them.

You might not think about this a lot, but handling conflict is an important responsibility for fathers. Our family members often take their cues from us; our actions and our overall mood during those times can inflame a situation or lead to resolving it.

how to be a dad Simple Ways to Handle ConflictI know many of us don’t handle conflict in the best way. I struggle with it myself sometimes. But I love simple solutions; often the best ideas are the simple ones, although simple often does not mean easy.

So here are seven simple ideas. These would fit well in the category, “all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten,” but I’m afraid too few of us really learned them well even if we heard them early in life.

And these actually came from an elementary school playground. One dad noticed them when he was volunteering as a WatchDOG at his child’s school, and he sent them our way. The dad thought they had a lot of application to his fathering, and I agree.

See if these uncover any areas where you need to grow when it comes to conflict in your family relationships:

1. Listen. By listening, you avoid flying off the handle, and you’re more likely to handle the situation without a lot of misunderstanding, which almost always makes things more difficult.

2. Talk it over. Once again, too many conflicts are based on not really understanding each other. Make sure you express your concerns without blaming or a lot of wild emotions.

To me, #3 and #4 go together: Share and take turns. In other words, think about the other person’s perspective, and be willing to compromise. Work toward a win-win solution.

5. Apologize. This is a big one for dads. An apology needs to include a sincere “I’m sorry,” and more. Show that you truly do regret what happened and you want to do your part to make things better.

6. Walk away. We don’t want to avoid conflict, but we also have to realize that we can’t always solve every issue right away. Sometimes, because of heated emotions or other reasons, it’s good to agree to take a break and talk more later.

7. Get help. Sometimes you need an outside perspective or more qualified expertise to help get past a sticking point in a relationship. Have the courage to get that help when you need to.

Sometimes the best answers really are things they teach in elementary school!

Just remember: good fathering isn’t always about doing things right; more often, it’s about learning from our mistakes and growing through the tough times.

Conflict resolution is so important in many different areas of life—in families, in work environments, and just about everywhere. And if we can coach our kids to use these skills, they will be spared a lot of trouble and heartache. Many of us can surely look back on issues and challenges we’ve been through, and see that these tips and skills would have made a big difference.

So, which of these is most relevant for you—for your own life or as you seek to teach your children about life? Share your thoughts and join the discussion either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • When talking with your child (and his or her friends), make a conscious effort to be less hurried, less preoccupied. Focus on listening, learning something, and looking for positives.
  • Remember that good can come from conflicts. When a child hits an emotional peak, positive or negative, that’s precisely when a word of comfort or apology or encouragement can lead to a closer bond between you and him or her.
  • A great question to ask yourself during a conflict: “Is this more about my pride or my need to be ‘right’?”
  • Remind your kids often of attitudes and actions that will help them avoid conflict, like: “Treat others like you would want to be treated.”
  • Let your kids work through many of the minor, everyday disagreements on their own. Those can be good opportunities to develop problem-solving skills.

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

Image: © Paha_l | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

 

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Only from Dad: 5 Things to Teach Your Child

 

One of the main goals of this blog is to encourage and challenge you to make the most of every opportunity you have with your children, because your time with them is fleeting.

They grow up so fast, and before we know it they’re moving out and getting on with their lives. Also, it’s sobering but true: none of us have a guarantee that we’ll be here tomorrow. You never know when something tragic could happen.

I’m not telling you all this to bring you down, but to remind you how important it is to have your priorities straight. It’s too easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and coast along.

A while back, I heard about a great idea from a committed father named Bob—a way to be purposeful about the time he has left with his three sons at home. Part of living out that commitment includes leading regular family meetings, where everyone has a chance to talk about what’s going on and share any concerns they may have.

Father and son in garageOne day Bob came to the family time with this exercise: each of the boys had to come up with five things they wanted to learn before they leave home. Bob and his wife came up five things they thought their sons needed to learn as well.

By the next meeting, the boys had listed things like: how to fix various things on the car; how to manage their time; how to find a job; how to cook eggs and French toast; how to fix or replace a faucet.

What would your kids say? Maybe it’s time to ask.

I know teenagers often act like they already know everything, but eventually all kids realize that they don’t. They’ll leave home one day and there’s a lot of information and skills they’ll need if they’re going to do well on their own.

A big part of our job is coaching them now as we prepare them for that time. There are hundreds or even thousands of things our children need to see and do and learn, and as dads, we’re in the best position to teach them many of those things. It’s a never-ending task, so we need to get started.

So, your number one action point for today is to follow Bob’s lead and ask your kids what they want to learn from you. Start with five things for now; you can always add to them later, or start a new list once you have the first one checked off.

It’s a great exercise to help get some specific goals in front of you for each of your kids. And it might help you keep them as a high priority and make the most of every opportunity you have with them.

I’ll also mention that there are several helpful books that go hand-in-hand with today’s topic, and you might want to check them out: 1001 Things Your Kids Should See and Do—Or Else They’ll Never Leave Home and 1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before They Leave Home.

What are the most important things you’ve taught your children—and what do they still want to learn from you? I hope you’ll join the discussion either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Talk with your children’s mother about an age-appropriate goal or skill for each of your children to learn (and for you to work on with them) during the next month—tying shoe laces, doing dishes, mowing the grass, finding useful information on the Internet, checking the air in the car’s tires, etc.
  • Give your children a glimpse of your budget and regular bills you pay, so they gain a better understanding of how much it costs just to keep the lights on and food in the pantry.
  • No matter what your child’s age, recruit him or her to assist you this weekend as you take care of a routine home maintenance task.
  • Help your kids find authors that they love to read.

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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What the Best Coaches (and Dads) Do


The NCAA tournament is going full speed, and for many families spring sports leagues are ramping up—if they ever slowed down.

I’m getting ready to speak to college basketball coaches at the NABC convention at the Final Four in a few weeks, which is always a great event. Those guys face some unique fathering challenges, and it’s my privilege to try to help them in some small way. (If you’re interested, you can read my column in the latest Time Out magazine, published by the NABC, here—see page 20.)

I’m convinced that we dads can learn a lot from good coaches as we strive to raise our own budding all-Americans. One of my favorite coaching quotes actually comes from a football coach, the legendary Vince Lombardi. Looking back on his coaching years, Lombardi noted that what he missed most wasn’t the winning or the competition or the crowds. What he missed most was the camaraderie, the relationships that were forged and tested on the battleground. He said, “It’s a binding together…. It’s like fathers and sons, and that’s what I miss. I miss the players coming to me.”

What-the-Best-Coaches-and-Dads-Do

The best coaches, including Lombardi and many of you, recognize that they also play an important role as father figures. There are many ways fathers and coaches have similar roles, and here are 3 ways I believe we can improve our fathering by imitating coaches.

1. A good father (like a good coach) is aware of his children. He watches closely and gets to know them well; he learns about their gifts, attitudes, weaknesses, and tendencies, then he helps them develop their abilities and perform their best. He tries to put them in situations where they can succeed, giving each member a role so he or she can make a valuable contribution to the team.

2. He builds strong relationships and a sense of family among the group. He leads in such a way that everyone wants to do well for the benefit of the entire group. They know they can trust each other in the heat of battle; they don’t want to let each other down.

3. A good coach (and father) provides motivation and encouragement. In life, as in sports, there are great plays and dropped balls, winning streaks and slumps, good seasons and bad. A good dad is ready to celebrate enthusiastically or exhort his children to keep fighting—to dust themselves off, learn from the setbacks, and get back in there. He tells his children, “I believe in you,” win or lose.

Dad, what have you learned about being a dad from your coaches or mentors in life? Encourage other dads by sharing your thoughts either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

    • Help your children set goals for their upcoming seasons. Then ask, “What’s the best way I can help you?”
    • Enter all your children’s games and some one-on-one practice time on your calendar.
    • Point out the coaches’ behavior to your kids when you’re watching on TV or in person. Ask them questions like, “Why did he do that?” “How would you feel if he said talked to you that way?”
    • Consider volunteering as an assistant coach or team manager, or fill another position of need for a youth sports team in your area—even if your children are grown or very young.
    • Talk with your children’s mother about a “game plan” for training each of your children in terms of morals and values.

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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How to Build Leaders (It’s a Dad’s Job)

 

Do you consider yourself a leader, dad?

You may or may not be in a leadership position in your career, and you may or may not be naturally wired that way. But I believe you are leader if you’re a father. It’s a leadership position, for sure.

This week I want to help equip you for that, with help from my close friend Wayne Gordon, pastor at the Lawndale Community Church in Chicago. What has happened in that neighborhood under Wayne’s leadership has been called a miracle: a blighted community has been transformed into a place of progress, purpose and hope. I had the privilege of serving there with Wayne for five years during the 90’s.

Wayne’s book Real Hope in Chicago talks about the principles that helped to transform this community. His insights on leadership are especially valuable, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t pass them on to you—with my own added emphasis on fatherhood. After all, fatherhood is about leading today and raising up leaders for tomorrow.

How to Build Leaders Its a Dads Job1. See fifteen years into the future. The little children you see today—or even the teenager—will grow and mature. Even if things seem difficult right now, don’t give up! Your investments in your children’s lives will make a difference, even if you can’t see it for weeks, months, or even years.

2. Make them feel important. That’s how gang leaders build closeness and loyalty, and it works even better in families. When your child knows that he is precious to you and has a contribution to make in your household, he develops the confidence to develop into a leader.

3. Don’t go anywhere alone. Future leaders need to get out in the world, experience life, and become familiar with its problems and mysteries. And they need to see how Dad handles those issues. So include a child when you go to the hardware store, to the weekend softball game, or the church service project, and sometimes, if you can, even the out-of-town business trip. That’s how you share your life with your children, strengthen your relationships, and give them a vision for the world.

4. Be accessible. Our children need to know that they are among our top priorities, and one way we communicate that is by being available—even when it’s not convenient for us. When a child knows they can get your full attention in a time of need, suddenly they gain a confidence to reach beyond themselves.

5. Expose them to other role models. Give your kids opportunities to learn from gifted youth leaders, caring coaches and teachers, and other positive influencers. As we’re sharing the best of ourselves, we also need to share others with our children.

6. Let them fail. It’s hard to stand by and watch your child fall short of a goal. But that’s often when the most growth occurs. At times, we may need to take a few steps back to allow our kids to move forward through the process of making mistakes and learning from them.

7. Love, love, love. Love is empowering for a child; it gives confidence and security so she can try new things or recover when something has gone wrong. And I know you already know this, but dads, our love needs to be expressed in actions and in words.

Dads, it’s inevitable that our children will grow up and eventually be out on their own. Let’s make sure we’re equipping them to be responsible leaders who really make a difference.

Dad—please share your thoughts: What leadership principles have you seen at work in your fathering? You can join the conversation either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Tell your children your heartfelt dreams for each of them.
  • Include at least one of your children when you run errands around town and, if you can, take one on an occasional out-of-town business trip.
  • Talk to your children about a coach, boss, or other leader who has been influential in your life. Share about what made him such a great leader.
  • Give your child opportunities to make some decisions as he becomes more responsible and refines his leadership skills.

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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Moms: You can help your child’s father be a better dad

 

Dads, the focus is on moms this week—and their impact on you and your fathering. If you’re married, I encourage you to share this with your wife in the interest of strengthening your teamwork as parents.

I know some moms regularly read my blog, and this week I’d like to speak to you directly. All dads know that moms impact us and our fathering.

It’s been a few years since it came out, but this study from the Journal of Family Psychology is an important one. It showed that a mom’s words of encouragement or criticism directly affect how involved her child’s father becomes in the day-to-day care of their baby.

Researchers found that when a mother criticized her partner’s child-care efforts, it often caused him to lose confidence and even withdraw from caring for the baby. But when a mom praised dad’s efforts, he took a more active parenting role. Here’s more about the study.

Mom, especially with young children, you often play the role of a “gatekeeper” to a dad’s participation in their lives.

Moms help childs father be a better dadChances are, he’s depending on you in many ways. You have those motherly instincts. You likely have more knowledge and experience with child care issues than he does, a deeper sense of responsibility for your child that dates back to early in your pregnancy, and a commitment to always do what’s best for your children.

I know there are exceptions; every situation is different, and sometimes the dads are more plugged in to the parenting role. But we know the stereotypes fit in many cases.

So I want to ask the moms to please be careful. If you insist that he always carry out parenting tasks the “right” way—your way—or you re-do something he’s done for a child, or roll your eyes, or create the impression that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he may get discouraged and withdraw some from his role as a father.

In case you didn’t know already, we dads are more fragile than we like to admit, and sometimes we can get easily discouraged—especially when we’re learning something new, like with parenting. And if a dad gets discouraged, that could influence his commitment to fatherhood for many years to come.

I’m sure your intentions are good; you may be focused entirely on the well-being of your children. I’m simply asking you to expand your perspective of your child’s well-being to include having the benefits of a highly involved father.

Maybe your toddler’s father dresses her in mismatched outfits, or his method for feeding her is less-than-efficient, or the diaper he put on her gets leaky 20 minutes later and you have to change it again.

As your child gets older, dad will start tossing her into the air, swinging her around by one leg, or executing some other physical stunt. He’ll spend an hour with her playing in the dirt, or take her outside in freezing weather for a snow adventure. When something goes wrong, his first instinct might be to help her learn a valuable lesson, while you might be eager to comfort her and soothe her pain.

Those times may not be fun for you, and I’ll admit that sometimes we dads are too casual with safety matters. (And in those cases you have every right to be concerned for your child.)

But many times it’s simply about different parenting styles. And your kids need both! That’s the beauty of parenting teamwork.

So please, for your kids’ sake, make room for Daddy; give him some space and encouragement. Sure, we dads make mistakes, but we also need opportunities to gain experience and wisdom and—sooner or later—become the fathers that your children need. I hope you can see that his active involvement will be a big advantage for your kids in the long run.

I’d like to get feedback from moms and dads. What differences in parenting styles have you seen? And how have you worked through them? You can join the conversation either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads (and Moms) on the Journey

  • MOM: Point out the positive results you see from your husband’s efforts to be a good dad.
  • DAD: When you feel unprepared or frustrated as a father, don’t give up! Being a good dad is one of the most important roles you’ll ever have.
  • MOM: Find opportunities to leave your child alone with her father. He needs to learn child care skills on his own and build stronger bonds with his child, and you can probably use the break.
  • DAD: Think of one parenting or child care skill your children’s mother has that you don’t have. (Just one for now.) Then ask her: “Would you show me how to …?”
  • MOM: If you disagree with a decision your children’s father makes regarding the kids, discuss it with him privately. Do your best to support him in front of the kids.

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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The Legacy of a Workaholic Dad

 

In last week’s message, I included part of an essay from a 5th grader about what makes his dad so great. Today I want to feature another essay, although I think you’ll agree that this one is much more sobering.

Here’s what one girl wrote about her father:

Father and daughterJust one of the many adventures we’ve had together was when I was about eight or nine, [when] my daddy took me to a monster truck show. It was awesome! We got lots of cotton candy and toy souvenirs …. It has been about five years and I’ve noticed my dad and I doing less and less together. I’ve become more involved with my friends and “boys” and ever since my step-mom got laid off her job, my dad has been all about work, work, work.

We gave the dads a chance to respond after reading their kids’ essays, and here’s what this father wrote:

Wow! I guess sometimes things get too hectic and busy that you don’t stop to think about the feelings of the people around you. I love [my daughter] very much. She’s one of a kind, and I think we need to make time for each other a lot more often.

This is one of many dads we’ve heard from who struggle to navigate work commitments and family. And his daughter’s words show that it looms large in children’s minds and hearts when they are placed behind other commitments in their dads’ lives.

Are your children competing for your time, and often losing out to other interests or responsibilities? Or maybe your kids know your top priority is somewhere else, and they no longer ask for or seek out that time and interaction.

Make no mistake: being a workaholic leaves a powerful legacy. Children carry those vivid memories and feelings into adulthood, thinking of Dad as the man behind the closed door, or missing most of their activities.

One “recovering workaholic” suggests that we keep this statement in mind: my kids are going to remember this.

As we’re making daily decisions about how long to work, whether to bring work home, and even how we talk about our work, we must remember that our kids are not only watching and listening, but learning attitudes that will affect their own work lives.

Let’s strive to give our kids a clear example that blends together hard work and a strong commitment to our families.

How do you make sure your kids are a top priority? Is there a saying or memory that you keep in mind to help you? I hope you’ll help other dads by joining the conversation either below or on our Facebook page.       

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Tell your kids about a memorable adventure you had as a child with your dad or father figure.
  • Plan to bring your child to work with you for a day during the next few months—and/or spend a day as a WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer at his or her school.
  • With your kids, calculate how many hours you work in a typical month. Then discuss what you do during those working hours and the people who benefit from your efforts.
  • If you haven’t recently, update your budget. Having an accurate picture of your income and a plan to meet your family’s needs can give you freedom to turn down higher-paying opportunities that would mean more time away from home.

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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A 5th Grader Describes 3 Ways to Be a Better Dad

 

We get to read a lot of priceless comments about dads written by kids as part of our Father of the Year Essay Contests, and I want to share an example from a 5th grader named Brennan. He’ll probably make you laugh, but I think you’ll also be challenged to be a better dad:

5th Grader Describes 3 Ways to Be a Better DadWhen I talk to my dad, he never says “uh-huh” like some people do before you’re even done talking. Dad really listens; he never criticizes me or yells at me.
   Dad holds the door open for women—this shows that he respects them. Mom never has to open any door when he’s around or carry anything heavy. Dad says she works hard all day and if he can help her in any way, he will.
   Sometimes Dad and I will have a father-son day—this means we go to Home Depot and do “man things.” We look at tools that we don’t have any idea what they are used for and maybe one day we will buy them just to have them around just in case.
   When he gets really old, like 45 years old, I will be taking him on a father-son day and wheel him into Home Depot just to look around and touch things, just like he used to do when I was just a kid.

Sometimes I wish I had someone pushing me around Home Depot in a wheelchair, don’t you?

But let’s not miss the powerful ways this young man is learning from his dad what it means to be a father. Let me drive home Brennan’s three points:

- Listen to your family members. Brennan’s dad is quick to listen and slow to become angry, and it makes a difference in their relationship. It may seem obvious, but we too often forget: good listening requires us to stop talking, pause, and let a child finish her thought even when her talking has become long and tiresome, or even when we already know what she’s going to say. We need to listen to what they are saying on the surface and what they are really saying from their heart. Good listening informs our actions as fathers.

- Show respect for women—especially the mother of your children. Through your actions and your words, show that you place high value on her role and all she does. How are you doing at this? If you’re married, does your wife know you’re there to serve her, and that you respect her for who she is and the role she plays? This is an important area of modeling for your kids.

- Be actively involved with your children. Brennan mentioned having father-son days when they can do “man things.” Kids treasure that time together, whether it’s planning a special day together or just bringing them along while you run errands. But it’s important—for a day or even for a few hours—to escape everyday responsibilities, break up the routine, and create those opportunities when you can really connect and make memories together. Your child needs to know that during those hours, your time is like a big buffet—he can have all he wants, and no cell phone or work demand will distract you or pull you away.

Those are your fathering objectives for the next week, dad, straight from a 5th grader: listen, show respect, and be involved.

Which of these areas is the biggest challenge for you? Or, what have you learned that has helped you address them? Leave a comment either below or on our Facebook page.             

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Really listen to your child. Draw him out conversation. Say, “Let’s make sure I understand. Do you mean …?”
  • Give your wife a day off by taking your kids somewhere, or care for them while she goes out with her friends.
  • Clear some time for a father-child day—or at least an afternoon—and discover or renew an activity that’s special for just the two of you. Consider letting her plan all the activities; just focus on having fun together.
  • Ask your child, “What qualities would make a great dad?”

 

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 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 lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

Photo: stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net.

 

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