by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.
We all celebrated fathers and fatherhood last week, and I hope you were able to enjoy some time with your family. I hope they honored you in a meaningful way.
Did you spend any time reflecting on your fathering role? It seems like a natural thing for me each year, but maybe it isn’t that way for everyone. So, I’d challenge you to consider a few introspective questions:
How would you rate your commitment as a dad?
Are you as engaged as you want to be in your kids’ lives … as engaged as they need you to be?
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about improving as a father?
For many, it comes down to commitment and priorities, and the difficult task of navigating the various roles and responsibilities that we all have. Work time. Family time. Down time. Other tasks and obligations.
New fathers need to be ready to make quite a few adjustments for the sake of their wife and kids, and maybe this is a good time for the rest of us to revisit some of these questions. Being a good dad usually means sacrificing some activities that are precious to you—activities that you’ll really miss. But in reality, it isn’t a sacrifice at all, but a wise choice because your kids are more important. They’re worth it.
There are few pursuits as rewarding as investing in those who will carry on your legacy.
One veteran father suggested four ideas for making more time for your children, and they’re worth considering:
Idea number one: sacrifice one leisure activity. I know I may be stepping on sacred territory here, since some of us are virtually addicted to golf or sailing or bowling or whatever. But, I’m really only asking you to prioritize your goals—especially while your kids are young. Who knows, as they get older, there’s the chance that you could rediscover that old hobby or sport with them at your side.
A related idea: trade one solitary activity for a family activity. Your solo mountain climbing expeditions could turn into family hikes. Trade your kayak in for a three-seat rowboat. Instead of going to the gym, go to the playground. There are all kinds of ways to adapt what you do to include your family.
Third, look at your spending habits. Even if you’re not facing money challenges, a financial self-analysis often reveals your priorities. The saying from Scripture is true: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
And finally, look into some creative work arrangements. Maybe one good thing about the COVID-19 pandemic is that many of us had to find ways to get work done and stay current with co-workers despite having our “normal” routines turned upside down. Chances are, employers are more willing to be flexible here, and if you have a unique request for a work schedule that works better for your family, you never know if they’ll allow it unless you ask.
We’ve heard it countless times: as we near the end of life, it’s very unlikely that we’ll be thinking about a golf handicap, whether our team won a championship, the biggest fish we caught, career accomplishments or even our stock portfolio. Instead, end-of-life reflections tend to bring our priorities into sharp focus, and most of us will be wondering what we could have done different with our family members, especially our children.
Dads, we can make that difference starting today. Let’s all find ways to make more positive investments in their lives.
What’s one change you’ll make to be a more involved father? Join with other dads in this fathering journey on our Facebook page.
Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- What was most rewarding for you about Father’s Day? Or, if it wasn’t a great experience, what was most challenging?
- How often would you say you reflect on your role as a dad, thinking about areas that are strengths and ways you’d like to do better?
- As much as possible, make sure you’re on the same page with family members with regard to priorities—which have a huge impact on time & money management and help everyone work toward common goals and values.
- However long you’ve been a father, what would you go back and tell that younger you who just became a dad?
- Decide on one change you’ll make based on the suggestions in this week’s blog. Write it down somewhere you’ll see often. Tell someone else you’re making that commitment.