Every child needs a dad.
That’s what keeps us going here at the National Center for Fathering. We want to help create a culture where there’s an actively engaged father or father figure in the life of every child.
We’re not out just to build up men, and we are definitely not about starting a gender war; we’re out to improve the lives of children, and dads are an important part of that picture. Statistics shows that children thrive when they have involved fathers; many of the ills in our land can be addressed on some level by inspiring and equipping men to be the involved fathers their children need.
You’re probably very aware of the importance of your role as a father. We hear about it convincingly from thousands of kids every year in our essay contests. We also hear it from dads.
Here’s what one dad said recently: At the end of the school semester, his 9-year-old son brought home a stack of papers and projects. One was an assignment to draw pictures representing different aspects and events in his life. On one page, under the heading “The Most Important Thing In My Life,” the boy had scribbled an image of his dad.
Just imagine how that dad felt! He actually said he wasn’t too flattered by how the drawing portrayed his receding hairline and pudgy mid-section, but most of all he savored that feeling of being appreciated.
He talked about the everyday investments he’d made in his son’s life up to that point—the evenings kicking a soccer ball at him so that he could sharpen his goalie skills, or their regular time going to get ice cream and talk about life together. Clearly, those investments were making a difference; he was connecting with his son and influencing him in positive ways.
This dad’s experience was actually rare, because usually we don’t get a chance to see that we’re making a difference in our kids’ lives until years later. Other than maybe on Father’s Day, there isn’t a lot of recognition or appreciation for what we do. (And we’re trying to change that!)
But this dad didn’t pull a muscle trying to pat his own back. After just a few moments those good feelings led to a renewed sense of commitment, as well as being awed and humbled by the great privilege and responsibility of fatherhood.
He thought of all the other great opportunities he has to invest in his kids—like helping with homework, being more purposeful in doing the bedtime routine, and teaching them skills around the house or wherever they were together.
What about you, dad? As you reflect on the past year of your fathering, you’ll probably recall some great times with your kids. Maybe you’ve even seen tangible evidence that you’re making a difference in their lives. Soak those in and enjoy them. And of course, for every dad there are also challenges here and there.
Whatever you think about and feel as you reflect, remember that you play a pivotal role in your child’s life. You do make a difference. You are tremendously important in the life of your child.
When you read that statement, “Every child needs a dad,” you should see even more ways to invest yourself in the New Year. So look forward with hope and confidence, and follow through. Call it a resolution if you want to, but make it a new, positive fathering habit—and start it today.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
- Ask your kids, “What’s your favorite memory from last year that involved both of us?” Then start planning some similar activities for the coming months.
- Have you saved cards from past Father’s Days, or other souvenirs where one of your kids expressed appreciation for what you do? Go get them and look through them—without dwelling on them for too long. It’s good to be reminded about the important role you play.
- What opportunities do you see where you can have even more positive impact on your children? List a few possibilities, and keep them in front of you every day.
- There are more great ways to make a difference for kids around you: encourage a child without a dad, and/or reach out to a father who may need your support in some way.
- Thanks to everyone who gave to support our efforts to inspire and equip dads. If you’re interested in helping us continue and expand our work, just go to fathers.com/getinvolved or fathers.com/donate.
Guys, when have you seen evidence that you’re making a difference in your kids’ lives? A lot of dads need to be reminded and encouraged. Please share about your experiences either below or on our Facebook page.