If you are not a father, consider sending this to someone who might benefit. Here are 10 suggestions . . .
- Ask your wife for feedback.
Ask “What are three things I can do to become a better father or husband?” When you do this, be prepared to LISTEN. The only reaction is “Thank you. ” No defensiveness and no “yes, but…” Not doing this can deprive you of
- great feedback/self awareness
- a new level of intimacy with your partner
- Determine the values you want to transfer to your children.
Kids often catch us when what we do varies from what we say. For good reason–we ought to be always about setting the example. So the question this week is: How does your behavior match up to your values? How do you want to be described when you are gone? What did your father do in relation to your mother and how does that affect what you believe about men and women in relationships? (Could be you need to re-evaluate some of that!) Then consider integrity, infidelity, pornography, questionable business deals and materialism. What are your values really?
Alignment means what we believe in and what we do are pretty much in agreement. If that is not the case, set some goals and begin focusing energy on those areas where you see some inconsistency. Take one each week and really focus on it.
- Mentor other fathers.
Offer your experience, wisdom, spiritual guidance.
Many of us forget that younger men look to us for guidance and direction–but they may never ask for it. So why not offer suggestions, but couched in language that says “I have been where you are and I know what it is like.” In areas such as home life, dealing with the first child, work/home balance–all these are fertile topics to mentor on. Who to mentor? Consider sons, sons-in-law, close friends, newlyweds–even a work colleague, if you feel comfortable with that. Just remember how much you would have appreciated a little guidance in your early days as a father. Reminder: always make suggestions, not criticisms. Do you have some other ideas you will share on this topic? Go to the blog (see link below).
- Play ball with the kids.
Do you remember neighbors or adult friends who played ball with you as a kid? These are character building, inspiring times for kids (boys or girls). It’s more than the Cat’s in the Cradle idea, it is that kids spell love T-I-M-E. Give them your time–even when you feel you don’t have it yourself. They really appreciate it and need it more than you can realize. There is a lot at stake as kids mature–many distractions and temptations. And it is even more an issue than it was when you were a kid. It just may be that your attention keeps one from going astray.
- Balance your work/home life.
If this is truly an issue, you have probably already heard some complaints from your family about the hours you work. Ask yourself honestly: do you really want to trade off the time with your kids for one more business trip? If the answer is “no” have a conversation with the family about the consequences of making decisions differently regarding work. It may be an easier sell than you think–at least talk it over with your minister or counselor to see how to craft the discussion. Life is not a dress rehearsal and your kids will truly be grown before you know it. In our survey and the MIB sessions, many men bemoaned the fact that their dad was missing (physically or emotionally) during their growing up years. Wouldn’t you like to stop the cycle?
- Become the spiritual co-leader of your family.
In our survey, it was surprising to see how many men said they were not seen as the spiritual leader of their family. Then who is? Have we totally forfeited this role to our partners? If so, it is time to re-think our priorities and have an honest conversation with our partner about how we can take on this role of co-leader. Young boys in particular are resisting going to church–and often their excuse is that daddy isn’t going so why should they? Not only should we be concerned about this, we need to act on it.
- Mentor kids other than yours.
Even if you are NOT a father, you’ll never know how much influence you have over kids. They watch our every move.
When I was growing up (after my dad had died early) I found 5 or 6 neighborhood men and hung out with them constantly. Each one had something that made me pay attention and model what I saw.
Just asking a neighbor’s kid how things are going on the team or at school is huge for that child. It makes him feel special. If you have time to do more, of course, that is great. It’s the best investment in the future you can make!
- Get to know your wife.
Your wife should be your best friend and your most loving critic. This is the person who knows you best and you may do well to listen to her counsel. Her feedback is intended to be a demonstration of love. While it may seem that wives or partners can be terribly critical of us, we need to hear their feedback non-defensive–easier said than done, to be sure. Learning to truly listen to her, especially when it is news you don’t want to hear, is a demonstration of your love.
Next, take her out on a date. Ask for her thoughts and truly listen. Resist any tendency to talk about your own concerns, just listen and encourage her to talk more. She needs your acceptance and this helps a lot.
Act on her concerns! They may not seem realistic to you, but you cannot afford to ignore them. And if the concern is about the relationship itself, go with her to (better yet initiate) counseling. Remember it is not sick relationships that go to counseling, but healthy ones!
- Re-establish links with your teens.
- Develop a close male friend you can be open with.