by Michelle Watson, PhD, LPC
I don’t know if Twitter is your thing or not. For me, it used to be an overwhelming foreign world, but over time I’ve discovered that it’s not nearly as scary as I first thought and it’s proved to be a superhighway for connecting with people who have similar interests.
Fast forward to a tweet I sent out where I was cheering on dads and highlighting the importance of fathering. That’s all it took to start a powerful Twitter dialogue with my awesome friend, Armin Assadi, who has an extensive pedigree as a former crime boss, who later worked on staff at a church, who now speaks and writes, and is an entrepreneur, among other things.
But the thing he’s most proud of is being a dialed-in dad to his two young daughters.
I can’t remember exactly how we got into our Twitter discussion, but we would both now say that it was a life-changing interaction. I’ll let you “listen in” on our dialogue since I believe it will bring this concept to life for you as well.
Armin to Michelle:
“Everybody always talks about having vision for your life and to start with the end in mind, but that always becomes a dialogue around profession, success, status, etc. Content like this from you is what helps a dad like me to have vision for my family, for myself as a dad and more. Thank u.”
I wrote back and said,
“You’ve got to come on my radio program, The Dad Whisperer, and talk more about this concept of casting a fathering vision. It’s profound.”
We continued to talk more about all of this, which fueled Armin’s fire and then he took it a step further by writing his own eulogy! He wrote from his daughter’s perspective, as if they would be saying those things about him after he’s gone. Talk about courageous and gusty!
For a former mob boss who says he “should have died many times” to now embark on this deeply reflective experience of connecting his own mortality to that of engaging intentionally with his daughters is something for which I have the deepest respect. He said that this process led him to make strategic decisions about the way he lives now by facing the reality that he’s not always going to be here to tell his girls that he loves them and is here for them.
After “being wrecked in the best of ways,” Armin began to immediately reprioritize his life.
He started leaving later for work after waiting until his girls were awake so he could kiss them every morning. He said he never again wants them to wonder if daddy loves them. Though admitting that this choice has resulted in less productivity at work due to less time on the clock, he confidently claims he has no regrets. Even more, he doesn’t care that he’s making less money because “my girls are my treasures and they matter more than all the money in the world.”
Armin is now living every day with renewed passion for fathering and is making different decisions about what to do with his time, money, and energy now that he’s clarified his fathering vision.
If you want to follow Armin’s lead in casting a vision for fathering, you may need to redefine success in your role as a dad, just like he did. In Armin’s own words, he states:
“Living for the definition of success that someone else gives me always puts me in a position of failure. So I’ve always tried to find my own definition of success for myself. As a father, here’s what I would recommend: Define what success is for you as a father.
And if you don’t know how to do that, then start with answering this one simple question: How will life look and feel when you’re a successful father?”
Maybe for you that will look like:
- Coming home from work most nights and eating dinner with your family.
- Starting a tradition where you take each of your children out for a meal, just the two of you, once a month.
- Making a covenant with yourself (and your mouth) that you will not ever yell at your children, whether it’s seemingly deserved or not. You will commit to walking away and calming yourself down any time your intensity is over a five on a scale of zero to ten.
- Leading your family in devotions for five to ten minutes daily (or as close to every day as possible), closing with prayer requests where each family member shares a need while everyone prays for each other.
- Attending all your children’s sporting (or other) events that you can. (One a month is probably the bare minimum.) Your kids should be able to see Dad in the stands cheering them on.
- Creating your own list of daily prayers for each of your children (and your spouse or ex-spouse) while asking God to do specific miracles in their lives, even though they may not know that you’re leading in this way behind the scenes.
The first step to casting a vision for fathering is making sure your action steps are clear and measurable, according to Mr. Assadi:
You have to write this down because if you don’t, you’re not serious. If you don’t write it down, you can’t refer back to it, you can’t change it, and you can’t update it. Until it’s on paper, you don’t have it.
Dr. Gail Matthews discovered that those who wrote down their goals and dreams on a regular basis increased the likelihood of success by 42%. Even better, that number increases yet again when someone chooses to share their written goals with a friend who believes in their ability to succeed.
If you like to use a bow and arrow, hit targets, shoot guns, or whatever, most every dad can understand this: If you don’t know where your target is, it’s hard to hit it. I don’t care if you’re the greatest sniper in the world, without a target, you’re not going to hit it. The best man in my wedding is a Navy SEAL, a decorated sniper, and he couldn’t hit a target if he tried if he doesn’t know what it is or where it is.
And this process is the same, where you need to know what the target is and where it is so you can put something dead center. And this is that process that’s allowing me to truly be on mission and know how to pursue it.
Dad, what would it look like if you gave yourself and your kids a gift this Father’s Day by clarifying your fathering focus for the next year? If you’re ready to radically turn this holiday upside down in a powerful new way by marking your territory with a new defined vision, here’s how you can make it happen.
Step #1 in casting a vision for fathering:
Write down some ideas following Armin’s suggestion: Here’s how my life will look and feel when I’m a successful father …
Step #2 in casting a vision for fathering:
Tell someone about your commitment so you are held accountable to reach your goal without excuses. Then invite your friend to write his goals, so the accountability is mutual.
The person(s) I will share my fathering vision with is (are) …
I have set an appointment to meet with him to share my vision on …
Dad, as you put your written goals into action, then bring another dad along with you, you’ll be one step closer to raising a healthy daughter or son who has one of the best dads on the planet. Yes, this is hard work, but I know you’ll do it because your child is worth it!
Dr. Michelle Watson is a licensed professional counselor in Portland, Oregon, founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum for dads of daughters (ages 13 to 30), and author of Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart, available on Amazon and Audible. Her next book, Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters will be released in August 2020. She also hosts a weekly radio program in Portland called “The Dad Whisperer,” which you can access as a podcast on her website and on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play Music. Visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.