4 Ways to Ring in Your New Year of Fathering

Here at fathers.com, we often think of Father’s Day as a milestone, the start of a new year in your fathering, when you end one season and begin another. It can be a time when you reflect on the past and set goals and resolutions for the future—especially as they relate to your fathering.

How can you do that specifically? Here are 4 ideas to consider:

1. Celebrate the privilege of being a dad. This was the topic of last week’s blog, and it bears repeating. (And that blog is worth reading if you haven’t yet.)

2. Reflect on the past year of your fathering. What did you learn and put into practice in each of the four areas of what we call the “I-CANs” of fathering?

  • Were you as Involved as you need and want to be?
  • Were you Consistent in your schedule, habits and character?
  • Did you maintain a healthy Awareness of what’s happening in your kids’ lives and their development, so you can help meet their unique needs?
  • And how well have you Nurtured them verbally and physically?

How did you do the past year, dad? The purpose here isn’t to beat yourself up—because all of us have room to grow. But it can be helpful to take a sober look at yourself and figure out ways to step up your game and be the dad you want to be and probably intend to be.

3. Express a new level of commitment to your kids. If your reflection revealed some ways you could improve—and if you were honest, it surely did—then come up with one or two “resolutions” you want to make as a dad. They might be for the whole family or more specific to one child. Then, verbalize them to your children (and your wife and/or other dads you know). If you truly want to improve in a certain area, then the extra accountability will help you.

It might sound like this: “Kids, I’m going to make sure I’m home for dinner at least three nights every week, because that’s important family time.” Or, “Son, I’m going to make you a higher priority in my schedule. Let’s go get ice cream once a week and just catch up.” Or, “Sweetheart, if you want a practice partner for soccer, count me in. Let’s figure out a few hours each week that work.”

Whatever actions you believe will help you be a better dad, make a verbal commitment and follow through. And keep in mind, these are not your typical New Year’s resolutions that you forget or blow off several weeks later. Set up reminders and accountability to make sure you keep those commitments a top priority.

Also: this may take some real courage on your part. Maybe you aren’t used to making these kind of statements and it feels strange. Or maybe you have a long history of not being very involved or consistent or nurturing with your kids, and they have no reason to believe your words are sincere. That’s where it takes courage to admit that you haven’t been trustworthy and ask for forgiveness for past faults and grace moving forward. Still, even if it’s difficult, Father’s Day is a great time to make those commitments and start good habits.

4. Look to the future and bless your kids. As you’re enjoying being a dad and expressing your love and commitment to your kids, it can also be a time to look forward and affirm the bigger picture of your fathering: your desire to leave a strong legacy that will last even after you’re gone.

That may be a strange thought if your children are very young and every day feels like you’re in survival mode, or if your relationship with your teenager feels fragile at best. Still, these too can be important words to speak to your family members.

What are your hopes and dreams for each of your children? Where can you envision that their unique interests and gifting will take them in life? When you share those kinds of ideas with them as their father, it’s like you’re speaking destiny into their lives. You’re conveying confidence in their future and their ability to achieve their potential.

Your legacy also includes memories, traditions, beliefs and values that you hope will carry forward as distinctive, stabilizing forces in your kids’ lives—yes, and even in your grandkids’ lives. That’s another way to verbally bless your children. One of the most powerful forward-looking statements from a father to his child that we have heard is: “If your kids turn out half as good as mine did, you won’t have anything to worry about.”

Those are the kind of simple, affirming statements you can make to your children as part of Father’s Day. And don’t feel any pressure about this; this isn’t about laying a heavy duty on you on a day when you just want to enjoy being a dad. But maybe you can pick one or two ideas and seek to bless your children this weekend.

Reflect on your fathering. Express your commitment to your kids. And bless them with regard to their future. You can do it, dad.

And as a reminder, we’re here to assist you in any way we can. At fathers.com you’ll discover ways to help you get started. Have a great year!

What’s the best part of Father’s Day for you? How do you express your commitment to your kids? Celebrate with us and other dads on our Facebook page.

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.