As the New Year arrives, it’s natural to think about turning over a new leaf. Bad habits to stop. Good habits to start. Resolutions to keep. On a personal level, maybe you’d like to lose a few pounds next year, get out of debt, get better organized, or read a book every week.

Those are all great goals. But make sure you also have specific resolutions for your fathering.

Maybe you need to look at your long hours at work and start being more intentional about scheduling time with your family. Maybe you need to develop more patience or emotional stability, so you’re a better model for your kids. Does your children’s mother have some needs that remain unmet? How can you be more thoughtful and romantic as a husband?

These aren’t just rhetorical questions. This is about you creating an action plan. How do you start? The start of a New Year provides a natural time to reflect on the past year and then set goals and objectives for the future. So spend some time during the next week reflecting, with a pen and paper or your phone or tablet nearby to capture your thoughts.

First, think about your each of your children and how he or she has grown and changed in the last twelve months. What issues are they dealing with now, and what challenges will each of them likely face during the next year? Write down your ideas.

Then have a “visioning session” with each child. Ask them what they’d like to learn and accomplish in the coming year, and don’t let them say, “I don’t know.” No dream is too big! Write these down too, and continue to refer to them regularly to help you stay focused on encouraging and helping them going forward.

Also, discuss these ideas with your child’s mother. She’ll have a slightly different perspective on the children, and her insights will be valuable. Together, come up with specific ways you can help prepare your kids for those challenges or help them attain their goals and dreams.

Maybe most important of all, use this exercise to recommit yourself to your family with passion and selflessness. To truly make changes, start with your own plan of action. But be warned: changes are never easy. Putting your plan into action could cause a lot of tension and discomfort; it will influence how you spend your time, your money, and your energy. It may stretch you a bit, but stick with it, because it can also bring great rewards.

ACTION POINTS

  • As you put together a list of ways you’d like to improve as a dad, pick one to focus on at a time, and really work on it. It’s unrealistic to think you can make 5 or 10 changes at once.
  • Resolve to get ongoing support and encouragement as a father. Commit to reading each weekly e-mail next year. Or, commit to reading at least one article from our website each week.
  • Commit to volunteering a day at your child’s school.
  • Have you set good fathering resolutions in the past? If so, please share them with us and how they worked for you. We’ll pass them on to other dads.