Here at the turn of another year, it’s great to look back and look forward as fathers. We do that in many areas of life, and it makes a lot of sense with our kids, too.

Take a good chunk of time in the coming days to do some reflecting and some dreaming with your kids. You’ll probably discover some positive changes you can make in your fathering, and you can help your kids grow and advance in significant ways.

First, the reflecting is looking at yourself and your family over the past twelve months. There have been physical changes in your children that need to be recognized, successes and readjustments, new milestones and experiences.

dad-school-age-son-on-back-airplaneMost of all, look for specific ways to affirm each of your children. Maybe your son is now only a few inches shorter than you are, and in 2014 he took on a new leadership role at school or in some other area. Tell him, “Son, I’m really proud you,” and give a few reasons why.

Maybe your daughter made first chair violin in her orchestra, or she supported a friend through a difficult time. Or maybe she’s a toddler who conquered potty training or adjusted well to her first year in preschool. Praise her for accomplishing a goal or for doing something admirable.

Then, this is also a time to dream. After discussing last year’s accomplishments, look forward to the New Year with each of your kids. Be positive and proactive; encourage your kids to talk about their New Year’s resolutions or some lofty dreams that they have. What challenges will they face in the coming year? What new experiences? Are there any rites of passage coming up?

Maybe your five-year-old will start school this year. He’ll make lots of new friends, which brings new experiences and challenges. That could cause a few conflicts as more of his activities involve friends and less involve the family. (And much of the same goes for an 18-year-old starting college.)

Your daughter could get her first paying job this next year or start organized sports. More challenges, more adjustments.

As you discuss new potential experiences, goals and dreams, take heart because you can play a significant role in helping your kids attain or fulfill those dreams.

Maybe you’ll help by contributing to their college expenses, or it may be teaching them a new skill or helping them in athletics this coming year. You can start preparing them, encouraging them, and instilling confidence.

Most of all, dad, you will communicate that you care deeply for your kids, you want what’s best for their lives, and you’re there for them at any time, no matter what happens this coming year.

Do you have a similar New Year routine with your kids? Please share what works for you at our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Have a New Year dreaming session for the whole family, where you discuss things everyone would like to do, accomplish, learn, etc.
  • Go get ice cream or iced coffee with each of your kids and talk through any dreams or desires for the coming year. Ask questions and just listen. Maybe tell stories about when you were that age.

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