How to Find Your Fathering Comfort Zone

 

Do you ever feel lost or out of place as a father?

New dads almost always feel intimidated by the idea of having a child. No one is ever quite prepared for such a radical change. (And that’s why we produced our free ebook, Forming a Lifelong Bond.)

Even more experienced dads can go through this—I know I still do. Challenges come along and we freeze up or just avoid the situation. Or we try the first thing that comes to mind, which isn’t always the best approach.

Being a dad is challenging, but it shouldn’t be terrifying, aggravating, or painful. Millions of guys make the necessary adjustments and do great with their kids, and so can we.

how to be a fatherSo, for dads in any situation or any stage along the journey, here’s my word of encouragement: be comfortable in who you are as a dad. And I’m not talking about sitting around in your easy chair all day.

As I see it, being comfortable as a dad requires a balance of two ideas:

First, you play an important role. Dads make a huge difference in their kids’ lives. Your children do better when you’re present and fully engaged. And they might not admit it or even realize it, but they look up to you; they depend on you. So you should stand tall and be confident that you can handle the challenges that come your way, and you can adjust to meet your child’s changing needs as he grows. Be optimistic, believing that you will grow in your commitment and in the various roles of fatherhood.

While embracing the important role and the power you have as a father, the second idea is the need to stay humble. Being comfortable in who you are as a dad means you’re okay with the notion that you’re still learning and growing. You’ll never know it all, and you’ll never be perfect, and that’s okay; you can live with that.

In my home, I ask my wife and my son lots of questions as I keep learning how to be the loving dad I need to be. I need their help! So I periodically ask them how I can be a better dad, and try to really listen to what they say. I have to be comfortable hearing that maybe I’m not doing so well in this or that area. I can’t take it personally or throw in the towel.

Being a great dad is a continuing process, and I’m growing comfortable with the good and the bad in my fathering. I guess that’s where maturity and patience come in.

So there you go: Embrace the importance of your role as a father and accept the idea that you’re a work-in-progress. Laugh at yourself! Be quick to apologize and seek forgiveness. Keep listening and learning.

Get comfortable and settle in for the long haul. Being Dad is a lifelong responsibility and privilege.

Do you feel “comfortable” as a father? Did it come naturally or require a lot of growth on your part? We’d like to get your feedback—either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Fathering Journey

  • Take the initiative in some way to build a stronger relationship with each of your family members—even if it involves something that’s out of your comfort zone.
  • What’s your plan to keep growing as a father? We believe one of your biggest assets in that regard is the other men around you. Read more.
  • Summer reading suggestion: read a book that helps you address an area of personal growth: communication, self-discipline, anger management, fathering, etc. (We have some suggestions here.)
  • Ask your children and their mom to suggest one way you can improve as a dad. Really listen, and don’t take it personally.
  • Are you planning some time away with your family this summer? Those provide some great opportunities to soak in the joys of being a dad (and sometimes the trials). Here’s an article from our online library about this.

 

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.

Wayne Simien on Video: Being a Good Dad is a Learning Experience

 

In what ways do you need to grow as a person?

Maybe that’s a question you don’t think about very often, but according to former Kansas University and NBA basketball player Wayne Simien, one characteristic of being a great dad is being teachable—learning and growing from the daily joys and challenges of interacting with your children.

I featured a video clip from Wayne last month, where he talked about the joy of fatherhood. I was inspired and challenged by a lot I heard from Wayne, and I think you will be, too—especially his additional comments about fatherhood bringing out things in a man like nothing else in life. As Wayne said:

There are things that need to be developed in me that wouldn’t take place without being a father—in terms of growth and maturity, leadership, learning how to love, learning how to serve. I wouldn’t be able to experience or grow or develop in those things apart from being a dad….

See for yourself in the clip:

 

It gives me great hope when I hear words like this from young dads like Wayne, or when I watch my own son being sensitive to his young kids.

I believe being teachable is key for any of us who want to grow as fathers or in any other area of life. We can learn a lot from our children if we approach them with the right attitude.

We have to be willing to learn from others. It all starts with a healthy humility, where we realize very clearly that we haven’t arrived as fathers. We all have room to grow in our relationships with our wives and children.

The great thing is that, these days, there are tons of tremendously valuable resources to help you be a great dad—but they’ll be useful to you only if you commit to being teachable.

When I joined the staff at the Center over six years ago, I knew I was a pretty good dad. But the more I learn about fatherhood, the more I see that I still have many ways I need to grow. And I was amazed to discover all the different resources and support that’s available to dads today. (Of course, I’m partial to what we have at fathers.com.) Being part of a men’s small group is also a vital part of helping you be the best dad you can be.

So, you really don’t have an excuse if you aren’t growing as a father. All the supports are in place. The question is, Are you teachable? Are you humble enough and wise enough to take advantage of what’s out there?

To be the father your children need, you need to always be learning and growing and hungering for more, likeWaynetalks about. Consider it an adventure every day to search out the new things you can learn about your kids and about being a better dad.

Action Points to help you grow as a dad:

  • Post those two questions from Wayne in a place where you’ll see them every morning: “What joy am I going to experience from my children today?” “What wisdom am I going to gain from my children today?”
  • Look for ways to help your child learn to be teachable, which starts with humility and respect for authority. Challenge him to show proper respect to teachers, coaches, bosses … and really everyone he interacts with.
  • Through the wins and losses of your child’s year, be there to give her a proper perspective on what happens. When she succeeds, help her stay humble and share the credit. When she struggles, provide comfort and support—then help her work to improve for next time.
  • Keep a long-range perspective in your fathering. Realize that many of the daily battles won’t really matter in five or ten years, so you can invest in your children with extra measures of patience, calmness and acceptance.
  • In what areas of fatherhood do you need to grow? Our online profile will help you identify strengths and areas for improvement. Take the profile here.

What have you learned from your children? How has being a father helped you to grow as a person? Please share your insights below or at 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.