3 Questions for Dads on Providing for Your Family

What does it mean to provide for our children in today’s world?

… especially as roles and expectations have changed pretty drastically in the past few generations. Yes, providing is still an important aspect of being a dad.

And along with Protecting our children, Providing makes up one of the 7 Secrets of Effective Fathers according to research on what sets highly effective dads apart from the rest. You can benefit from much more of that research by utilizing our new tool, a free profile and master class on the 7 Secrets right here.

Here’s a brief look at three common questions about fathers providing for our families:

How much money is enough?

There’s no magic number here, and the average cost of raising a child may or may not fit your situation perfectly. But the key concept is that you have a steady, reliable income. Providing is about consistency and dependability, and it’s more than having a job that provides ample income or the same amount every two weeks.

We know that life brings changes, companies downsize, worldwide pandemics come along, and a whole variety of other forces and factors come into play. But your kids need to see that you’re committed to earning a salary and providing for their needs—and they need to hear some stories and lessons you’re learning in the process. You’re setting an example for them that can have long-lasting influence on their lives and your relationship with them.

Some great examples of this came from dads in a diversion program we participated in with a local prosecutor’s office. The dads were facing prison time because of their failure to pay child support, unless they agreed to participate in the program, which included a fathering class. Among the other issues discussed, the dads were challenged to pay something every month to help provide for their children. The program was a huge success because of several million dollars that were paid collectively by those dads, but also because the dads gained dignity and confidence as they became partial providers. And in many cases, over time their commitment to faithfully support their children brought them new opportunities to be part of their kids’ lives.

Isn’t time more valuable than money?

To our kids, the short answer is yes. Just about any discussion about working to provide for your family should include a caution or two about having balance, avoiding workaholism, and making time in your schedule for lots of interaction and activities with your kids.

It comes down to regularly recommitting to your top priorities and evaluating how your daily routine is lining up with those priorities—and involving your spouse and possibly your kids in those decisions. One good idea to keep in mind: your children and your family are the purpose behind why you’re working. The job should serve the family, not the other way around.

Sure, there are times when work demands mean you’re putting in crazy hours and you miss family dinners or a few of your kids’ games or performances, but if family life is suffering because of work, maybe it’s time to make some adjustments or look for something else. Remember: at work, you can be replaced in a few weeks and business there will go on. But to your kids, you’re irreplaceable.  

What about at-home dads and similar situations?

The number of households where dads are not the main breadwinners continues to grow. And although many men feel responsible for earning the highest income in the family, sometimes a wife’s skills and opportunities bring in a larger salary to benefit the family. And dads can still be good providers.

We can expand the classic definition of “providing” to include being involved in managing the family’s finances responsibly and planning for our children’s future needs. Providing also includes teaching kids about money management, so they’re equipped to handle future opportunities. And since women can have workaholic tendencies too, maybe it’s a dad’s role to reinforce the importance of family time even while expressing appreciation for Mom’s career achievements. And in some ways, we could say that everything we do as fathers is part of providing for our children’s needs and well being.

Dad, it is a key part of your role. Do it to the best of your ability. Keep it in proper perspective. Make this one more way you’re training and encouraging your kids to be responsible adults.

Once again: you can assess your fathering in 7 areas using our free online Profile and Master Class. Get started now.

What other questions are you asking about providing for your children? Interact with other committed dads about this and other topics on our Facebook page.

Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  • What are the biggest challenges you have faced in providing for your family? What have you learned through the challenges?
  • In what ways do you “provide” for your family that have nothing to do with finances?
  • Do a big-picture review of your family finances. Include college savings for kids, retirement plans, life insurance … everything. Use an online tool or planning service if necessary.
  • What do your kids know about your family finances and budget? Give them a basic picture of how it works and the decisions you regularly make—at whatever level you believe is appropriate for their age and what you want them to know.
  • Talk through how well your family navigates work and family responsibilities. Ask your kids point-blank: “Do you think I work too much?”

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

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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.