I don’t know a lot of dads who don’t want to improve in their role as dad. I grew up most of my years at home without a father active in my life. To be honest, I never understood why he would choose to leave his family, but years later, after I was an adult, my father returned and made amends with his family. In spite of all the pain he caused, knowing what I know now, he really did want to be a good dad.
I love the young dads in our church. I’d also love to encourage them. For all the dads with children still in the home (and even for those who no longer do) this one is for you.
Here are 5 tips to be a better dad today this week:
Review your calendar for the week – every week.
We have to make sure our family is getting some of our best time, as much of it as possible. Children often spell love T I M E. Especially when they are young, children want a dad’s time as much or more than anyone else’s. Sometimes work or other responsibilities take us away, but I’ve also learned we have to be intentional. There are seasons and things to which we can say no. I gave up golf when my boys were young. There just wasn’t enough time to do golf, work, and give my boys the time they wanted. I wanted my boys to love riding in the golf cart while I played. They didn’t. But, at this point in my life – with adult sons – I know I made the right decision.
Another changed happened in my work life. This one I didn’t instigate. Others did for me. (I think God may have even had a part, because the decision of others helped lead me into ministry.) I had a job opportunity I still believed was tailor made for me, but it would have required an extremely heavy travel schedule. At the time, my boys were in critical years of development. I wanted the job so badly, but they went another direction. My boys and I were the real winners in their decision.
As much as it depends on you, rework your schedule if needed.
Plan a date night with your wife.
Protect your marriage. Ultimately your family is protected by regular investments in your marriage. Model for your kids what a good marriage looks like.
I realize there will be single dads read this post. You may even wish you could plan a date night with your wife. Here’s the thing, you can’t erase the past. And, you certainly don’t have to have a perfect marriage to be a good dad.
But, if you’re blessed with a good marriage now do everything you can to protect it. It’ll prove to be a blessing to your kids – and you when they are gone from the house.
Keep a prayer list for each of your kids.
One way to do this is to write prayers you have for your children on index cards and place the cards where you will see them often. What are their greatest struggles? Their fears? The parts of their character, which need the most development? What do they dream about doing some day. This may require you to spend more time asking them questions and getting to know them better, but that’s worth the effort also.
You can also pray for their future spouse, career, and walk with God. One of my most frequent prayers for my boys is they would “love Jesus with all their heart.”
Pray for this list daily – even several times throughout the day if possible. It will help you develop your own prayer disciplines and God does answer prayers!
Take thirty minutes this week to plan an intentional retreat with you and each child sometime in the next six months. Make it intentional. Make it fun and character building. Plan questions ahead of time to stir meaningful discussions with them.
You don’t have to spend money on this, but you could if you wanted to spend the night somewhere. They will look back on these occasions with fond memories for years to come.
Turn off electronics.
I saved the hardest one for the last suggestion. But, seriously, it is hard, isn’t it? You work hard. You come home tired. You just want to veg in front of some screen. I get it.
But, I speak from experience, these moments will pass so quickly.
What if you used this disconnected time to play a game with your children? What if the time spurred a conversation? What if the conversation changed the way a child looks at life? What if this created a moment which impacts the child forever? Those memories start, as all memories do, in a moment – often a very intentional moment.
I realize this list is impossible for some. You have work commitments, which have you out of town this week. Your children may object at first to a change in schedules, which interrupts their schedule. You can’t force it. You may be separated from your child for custody reasons. You may have to build slowly to complete some things on this list. You may have to be more creative.
The key is to be intentional as a dad. And, that’s really the whole point of this post. The simple tip to be a better dad is to think about it more intently. And, this seems to be a great week to start.
(By the way, I would suggest this works for moms too. I’ve just never been one.)