Where Are You as a Father?

by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.

For many decades, we men had a bad reputation when it came to navigating the world. We wouldn’t stop and ask for directions. Maybe we thought,

Hey, I’m a guy and I know where I’m going and how to get there. Or at least I should.

Sometimes this approach led to some tension during family vacations. And there’s a story about one man in Australia who took a wrong turn on a simple trip to a nearby store, and his short drive became a nine-hour, 400-mile journey. He was too stubborn to pull over and ask for help.

Of course, in today’s world we all have smartphones with mapping apps—although apparently a significant number of men disregard the recommended directions because they’re confident that they know better. But have you ever ignored your phone’s suggested course, only to discover road construction or a closed highway that forces you to backtrack and spend extra time getting to your destination? Is there anything more frustrating to a guy?

Understand: this little analogy is really about being a dad.

As fathers, we shouldn’t be backtracking and wasting time and energy going in the wrong direction. Our children are too important. And especially when a reliable “fathering GPS” is at our disposal. That’s what our new 7 Secrets Profile and Master Class is all about. (And for the rest of 2022, you can access all of it if you make a donation of any size to support our work. More details here.)

Here at the National Center for Fathering, we believe there is great value in giving feedback to dads. All of us need to know how we’re doing, where we are on the fathering map, and how to move in the right direction, and this new tool should be an eye-opening experience in that regard.

To try another analogy, this resource is like getting a check-up. Every so often, you need to have a health professional measure your vital signs, draw blood for testing, and ask you difficult questions about your habits. Based on that information, he or she can give you recommendations about changes in diet and exercise, and maybe write you a prescription, to help you move toward a healthier lifestyle and probably extend your years. Life is short, and ignoring the doctor’s advice—or avoiding regular check-ups altogether, which is quite common for men—is only asking for trouble.

Yes, it’s much the same with fathering.

We need to pause, take a step back, and get objective, outside feedback from a professional about our fathering habits. We need to identify potential problem areas and have a plan to make positive changes. If we assume we’re doing OK or we fail to utilize key information that could help us, we’re leaving ourselves and our children vulnerable.

This is a great time to try our 7 Secrets Profile and Master Class. It will give you reliable feedback, revealing where you’re strong and where you need to make adjustments as a dad, along with practical ideas and action points to help you set specific goals for improving the way you relate to your kids. If you’re really brave—or really serious about being the best dad you can be—you can also have your kids’ mom, your kids, and/or others in your life take the profile about you and your fathering.  

It isn’t a test for you to pass; it’s designed to give you an accurate picture of yourself based on your honest responses. It’s meant to be a reference point and to give you valuable feedback; your desire to be a better dad is really the most important factor.

Also, I have to mention that any effort to make positive changes as a father will be more successful if you make the journey with other, like-minded dads. Meet regularly with other men and pursue your goals together, so you can encourage one another and hold each other accountable.

Dad, your family members are depending on you, so please don’t ignore the warning signs or go another mile in your fathering journey if you think you might be off course. Stop where you are, assess the situation, and have the courage to ask for help.

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a dad? And how do you know? Share your thoughts and learn from other dads on our Facebook page.

Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  • When is the last time you were lost? What feelings do you associate with that memory?
  • How did you learn how to be a father? What was good and not-so-good about how that happened?
  • Where do you look for direction and guidance in your fathering? Do you ever feel like you’re just coasting along as a dad, doing your best but not really sure where you’re headed?
  • One more shameless plug: Start your own 7 Secrets Profile and Master Class right here. Have a friend go through it too, then talk through your results.

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.