“Every dad, if he takes time out of his busy life to reflect upon his fatherhood, can learn ways to become an even better dad.” — Jack Baker.
I am far from being a perfect dad. But through my many years of trial and error I have found some simple tips to help be a better father. Some of these don’t even apply just to fathers, if you are an influence in a child’s life these tips might be for you.
Put your phone down
Looking around at everyone in my family and the first thing I see is they are all staring down at their device. Whether it is a phone, tablet or TV, these distractions in our daily life are robbing us of precious face to face time. On their own these devices provide us with tons of information and entertainment, but they open a door to addictive behaviors that can lead to children who are cold and distant. But this problem is not isolated to our children. As adults we allow these devices to rob our attention and push a wedge between parent and child.
I tend to be a people watcher and can see the difference in behavior of children. When the parent is attentive and watching their child, in most cases the child seems to behave well. If there is a parent that is buried in their phone and not paying attention, their children tend to behave poorly and are more likely to be out of control.
I catch myself doing this often. My son will ask me to do something with him or for him and I tell him to give me a minute. Honestly there is nothing on that phone that is more important than his attention. I try to rationalize that what he is asking is unimportant and can wait, but the reality is I just showed him that he is second fiddle to my phone. Yes I have work emails on my phone and yes I use my laptop to write this blog, but those are all way behind loving my family. So put the device away and give your children your full attention.
Eat Lunch With Them
At my youngest son’s school the parents are allowed to eat lunch with the kids. This is a great opportunity to show your kids that they are more important than your job by going and eating lunch with them. This is also a good chance to meet some of your children’s friends and classmates that you may not interact with on a regular basis.
For some people leaving work at lunch isn’t an option and some schools may not allow parents to each lunch with their kids because it could possibly cause a disruption at lunch time. Some schools now are doing a donuts with dads or muffins with moms before school. That is another great opportunity to be present and show them how important they are to you. If that time still doesn’t work out the weekends are a great time to have a lunch or breakfast date. Let them pick where to eat, or better yet pack a lunch and take them to a park.
Use this time to get that connection that could be missing. Sometimes at supper time you rush through it because the kids have homework or maybe sports or some other activity and you miss connecting with your kids. Slow down and take this time to talk and learn more about them. If you are eating with them at school you may get to talk to some of their friends. This is a time to really shine and show love by connecting with your kid’s friends.
Go On An Adventure
Kids have the greatest imagination. They can pick up a stick and that stick can become anything from a sword to a musical instrument to a rocket launcher. Feed this imagination. Become a kid again and remember what it was like to look at such a simple object and pretend it was so much more. Games like the floor is lava can be absolutely hilarious and doesn’t have to be played indoors. If you have a stone path you pretend the stones are the only way to get across a moat filled with alligators. Playing with toys are not just for you kids, if you daughter hands you a tea cup and wants to do a tea party then sit down and have a tea party with her.
You could also take them to a park and play. Not everyone has a good outside area to play at their own house so find a good park and go. But don’t just sit and watch them play by themselves. You can play tag, or hide and seek, or just pretend. Taking a ball or Frisbee is another great way to connect and get physically active with your children. You just never know you may attract other kids who could potentially become good friends with your kids. Once they see how much fun you as a family are having it might inspire other parents to get involved.
Trails are another great way to adventure. Finding a nice short trail and walking with your kids can lead to hours of fun. They can use their imagination along the way and sometimes you can just have quiet walking time to try and see some animals in their natural state. Let them explore a little and go off the beaten path with them. And remember it is okay for you as an adult to let your imagination go so you can get to their level.
Respect Their Mother
My boys love their mom. She will protect them from anything, even me. I love my wife with all my heart so showing her respect is an easy task in my household. Kids pay attention more than we think. They are always watching and learning so how you treat their mother just might be a direct reflection of how they will treat their spouse when they get older. When I think about that it makes me want to be the absolute best husband I can be.
Some of you out there may be separated or divorced. But that doesn’t mean you get a pass to disrespect your ex. She is still the mother of your children and kids will notice when you do not treat their mother right. Even if the relationship ended badly you should always show respect and be cordial to your children’s mother. And never say bad things about your kid’s mother to them even if it may be true. Try to frame the conversation in a positive light even if you don’t see the positive.
Take Them To Church
My faith in God and his son Jesus Christ has helped me more than anything to become a better father. Understanding the teachings of the bible and our heavenly Father’s love for us pushes me to be the best father I can be on earth. I fail daily as a father so I find myself constantly looking to God to help guide me and to help pick up the pieces I leave behind. Without His strength I would be an absolute mess.
Taking your kids to church opens them up to the love of Christ. They will have the opportunity to learn about their heavenly Father and how much He loves them. The teachings of Jesus to love will help them to open their hearts to everyone they meet. Teaching them to love God gives them someone to go to when you fail as a father. Letting them know that they can take anything to God and pray to him allows your children a place to take their problems when they can trust no one.
Praying with your kids at home is also a powerful connector. When you show that you put other’s needs in front of your own by praying for them shows just how much you love everyone including them. This can also be a great way to show your kids how to treat others. To care and love others before themselves and to be humble in their daily lives.
There are so many other ways you can be a better father so if you have any more ideas leave a comment below.