Do you want to be a better father? If so, you seem to be in the majority. The desire to be a better father is universal. Whether you are a biological, adoptive, or foster parent, you feel the stress of being a father.
No matter how well we did or didn’t do, we know it could have been better. But how do you become a better father?
A man who wants to be a better father asks himself why he wants to do better, recognizes his need for improvement, believes that he can change, and implements a plan to make it happen.
Why Do You Want To Be A Better Father?
What motivates you to want to be a better father? Was it the influence of a good father or a bad one?
Did your father do an excellent job of protecting and providing for you?
Maybe your father did a great job of protecting you. Or perhaps he was an abusive individual, and you needed protection from him. You may fear you will not measure up to the good father or emulate the abusive one.
But regardless of your fears, you are a father, and you are responsible for protecting your children.
It can feel overwhelming. With racism, sexual abuse, misogyny, and bullying on social media, the world can be a dangerous place.
But racism dies by reinforcing to your children, in words and actions, that we are all created in God’s image and are worthy of love and respect.
Protection from sexual abuse begins by talking about things that make us uncomfortable. Teaching our children that they are sexual beings and that their bodies are their own is difficult but necessary.
Misogyny fades as we value women by our actions and words.
Bullying in schools and on social media is lessened by teaching our children to stand up to peer pressure.
Maybe your father contributed nothing to your daily provision, struggled to provide the bare necessities, or gave you material processions that you did not need.
How your father provided for you will impact how you provide for your children. He is the standard by which you measure yourself.
You may be experiencing anxiety over finding a job, holding onto the one you have, or knowing if it is time to look for something different.
How do you determine the difference between what you want and what you need? How much is enough?
My favorite question was, “Is this what I think the kids need, or is this what I want to provide for my children?”
I wish I could give you straightforward answers to these questions. But I have learned by experience that taking the time to wrestle with the problem is half the battle.
To Be A Better Father, You Recognize What Needs To Change And Acknowledge That You Can Change.
You know you are not a perfect father, but neither was your dad.
My father asked me to forgive him for not being a better father when I was fifteen years old. He was specific about what he had done, the damage it had caused in my life, and sincere in his commitment to changing his attitudes and behaviors. We developed a great relationship.
Once I had children of my own, I found myself in the same position of seeking them out for forgiveness. Over multiple conversations, I learned to listen more and talk less.
Recently, my son became a father for the first time. He immediately questioned whether he was up to the task. I laughed because I knew what he was feeling.
Here are four suggestions to help you get started on being a better father.
- Consider asking your spouse for feedback and acting on her recommendations.
- Ask your kids to list five things they like about you and one thing they would change.
- Consider writing a letter to your children on why you are proud of them. Please don’t make it about their accomplishments but their character. Then give them the message as a celebration of them on Father’s Day. I did this last Father’s Day with my adult children, and it was awesome!
- Look around for men that have good relationships with their children and ask them for advice. Most of these men will share their failures and what they learned. Take encouragement from that; you can learn and improve as well.
You may question whether you can change. You may need help in the process, but change is possible. For me, change came through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There were some things that I was powerless to change by myself. Other changes are a result of spending consistent quality time with a group of godly men.
We have all done things that we did not think we could accomplish. Some of us believed in ourselves; others received encouragement from someone who believed in them. If you feel that you cannot change, take heart, I think you can. Your story is still being written.
You have a choice to make; you can spend your later years trying to repair the damage you caused, or you can do something about it today.
Harry Chapman’s classic song, “Cats In The Cradle,” reminds us how fleeting time with our children can be. Sadly, Harry Chapman died at the age of thirty-eight in a car accident. Check out the video below for a word from his son, the song, and the story behind it.
To Be A Better Father, You Need To Implement A Plan And Make It Happen.
We can strive to do a better job in protecting and providing for our children but miss a crucial element.
We have to make time in relationships with our children a priority; it will not happen by accident.
Proactively scheduling time with each child is essential.
The Quality and Quantity of time are both critical in developing relationships.
However, we can not overlook the cumulative benefit of the amount of time spent. How often you meet with your children matters. Fifteen minutes playing catch, or attending a tea party, regularly may be more important than a one-time trip to Disneyland.
There is tension in working and prioritizing time with your children. You have to work to provide for them. But sometimes we can begin to live to work, rather than working to live.
I made a decision when my children were young to leave a management track so I could be involved in my children’s lives. I have never regretted that decision.
I have never met an individual who regretted making his family a priority over his career. But I have met countless men who regretted sacrificing their family for a job.
Call to Action.
What is it that makes a father great? Your awareness of why you want to be a better father, your willingness and belief that you can change, and your desire to implement a plan to make it happen will make you a better father.
Happy Father’s Day.