by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.

There are some dads who appear to have it all together. But to some degree, all of those guys are wearing a façade, because …

Fathering isn’t easy.

There are no perfect fathers, and often it’s the struggles and challenges that help to define us as fathers.

I am inspired by faithful fathers—men who usually don’t make the news headlines, but do continue to gain ground in the hearts of their children, where it really matters.

There are some of those dads that I hear from quite often: guys who clearly don’t have it all together. They are struggling, sometimes beaten down by life, striving to make the best of a tough situation, and yet, still determined to do what’s best for their kids.

Whenever I speak to groups of dads, a majority of the men who approach me afterward are dads in complex and difficult fathering situations. One memorable one was Jerome.

He told me he was facing a tragic health situation and only had a short time left to live, and in his remaining days, his number-one priority was becoming the best dad he can be for his daughter. That was his everyday commitment and passion. That was a bigger challenge for Jerome because he was abandoned as a child—which contributed to struggles he had faced in many other areas of life. But he was determined not to let his past define his future and his daughter’s future.

Jerome is an overcomer.

That’s a descriptor we use for fathers who have a keen awareness of all the benefits they didn’t receive from their dads and others in their life, but they’re eager to do better. And according to our research, they are among the most vigorously committed dads anywhere.

These dads are walking object lessons for two great qualities of committed dads:

First, they rise to meet the challenge.

When the complexity of the task grows, so does their motivation.

And second, they have a task orientation.

They fix their goal in mind and work unceasingly to reach it, even if it means learning new skills, risking failure, and getting out of their comfort zone emotionally. They work at overcoming whatever obstacles stand in their way. That’s what committed fathers do!

And if there’s one more thing we can learn from Jerome’s intense desire to become a great father, it’s this:

We can’t put off being committed, engaged, growing fathers.

Like Jerome, we all have limited time on earth and limited opportunities to bond with our children, and it’s never too late to start.

What’s behind your motivation to be a good dad? Share your insights and be inspired by other dads on our Facebook page.

Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  • If there’s a dad you know who appears to have it all together, you probably don’t know him well enough. Ask him about his fathering journey.
  • Who’s the best dad you know? What makes him a great dad? What has he had to overcome?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now? Share about that with a trusted friend.
  • What other qualities would you add to a description of “committed dads”?
  • If you knew you had a few months left to live, what would you change in your fathering? Make one or more of those changes.

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