The new year brings all kinds of new and exciting challenges for your life. Many people this time of the year look to reinvent themselves for business or their own personal goals. I suggest you commit yourself to being a better father in 2017. Not only will you improve as a person, professional and parent but your family life will improve too. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not been in your child’s life before or you are sporting several years of consecutive “Best Dad in the World” mugs, these suggestions will lead to a more enjoyable fatherhood and family.
1) Show Your Kids You Love Them
A lot of fathers don’t feel comfortable expressing their feelings with physical touch. This can be for a variety of reasons, but mainly because men aren't supposed to have feelings... other than hunger. Hug and kiss your children. This is a way to connect on a basic human level with your family, by showing them affection. But it also has a health benefit. Hugging can boost the feeling of social support and produce helpful chemicals in the brain that reduce stress and boost your body's abilities to fight off sickness. See for yourself in this US News and World Report article from earlier this year.
2) Engage Your Children
You need to engage your children socially and emotionally.
There are a lot of people who are pushing this theory of dads just showing up is good enough for their kids. This theory sounds good especially for the lazy dad. Showing up is not good enough though. You aren’t going to make much of a difference in your kids lives if all you do is sit on the couch and scroll through your phone. This type of “parenting” behavior isn’t going to help anyone.
You need to engage your children socially and emotionally. Take the time to talk to them and ask how their day went. Play a game of basketball and see if they are a gracious winner or terrible loser. You never know what is really going on with your children until you connect with them.
3) Discipline Your Children
If you’ve read my blog before you know I am big on discipline. That does not mean that I am harsh or overbearing at home. Just the opposite. You can discipline your kids in a positive and consistent manner by upholding the rules of the house everyday and correcting when necessary. The Bible tells us in Proverbs:
“A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.” Proverbs 22:24 MSG
Love your children by disciplining them in a healthy manner. Children, young children especially, need boundaries to know where it is safe to play. Set those boundaries up in a loving manner when they are young so they can grow older knowing right from wrong.
4) Listen, Then Talk
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that you have two ears and one mouth so that means you should listen more than you talk. It’s wise advice. The same goes with your children. When you talk to them, listen to what they are telling you. Don’t run down the same list of questions every night at the dinner table about their day and what they learned at school. Ask a question, listen and then speak about what they’ve said. This let’s them know you are listening and gives you a unique insight into their life.
5) Be a Role Model
Do you really want anyone in the media to be the one your kids model themselves after?
Who is going to be your children’s role model in 2017? Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian? (I have blogs on both of those personalities.) But really, look around. Do you really want anyone in the media to be the one your kids model themselves after? The person who should be your kid’s role model is you. You need to be the one they look up to and ask for advice. This isn’t an easy role to play. You have to earn it. You have to take a larger role in your children’s lives so they can see you are the one they should trust and emulate.