James is a busy man with many professional and community responsibilities—and he’s a devoted father. Several years ago, James’ son Darren developed a burning passion for the game of basketball—and he had some skills.
But as James watched his son, he could see that Darren wasn’t living up to his full potential. He challenged Darren to take it up a notch and go beyond just going to practice and putting in the same effort as everyone else. And James realized that he needed to model that same commitment himself, as a father. So he agreed to go to the gym with his boy every day at 5:00 a.m., which meant getting up even earlier than that. Every morning they played one-on-one and ran drills together.
At first it was just the two of them. They’d play one-on-one, shoot, and run drills. After a while, some of the son’s friends heard about this and they started coming as well, and occasionally other fathers came too. But James was consistent. He was there every day for his son. And you can imagine the positive impact this had on their relationship.
The “rest of the story” is that Darren earned a scholarship and is now playing basketball at a small division 1-A college. As a sophomore, he was the starting shooting guard and led the conference in three-point percentage. James attends just about every game, even though the college is out of state and it requires lots of extra travel.
This is just one example of the great benefits of modeling character and commitment for our children and other kids around us. We can’t always match our children on the court or the playing field, but our willingness to put in extra time for them, lend a listening ear, and sacrifice for them even though life is busy—that kind of modeling message will last. Whether or not our children reach the highest level in their pursuits, we are still helping them live out their dreams.
Our research says that consistency is one of the key fundamentals of fathering. If you really want to make your influence count, you should be modeling character for your kids. Your actions do speak louder than your words. The question is, Are you purposeful about how you’re modeling for your children?
- Make plans to do a one-on-one activity with each of your kids.
- Think back to your childhood. What qualities did your dad or father figure model for you?
- Whenever you correct your child or challenge him to do something, give him permission to ask, “Do you do this, Dad?”
- Model healthy respect and honor toward your wife and/or other women in your life through your actions and your speech.
- Commit yourself to a higher level of involvement in helping your child reach her goals and dreams.