As I look back to my earliest days of fatherhood, I now see some things I could have done. They’re commonly repeated failures among fathers. Here are five of the biggest. Hopefully they will provide a timely reminder as you raise your kids . . .
- Not Praying Out Loud – Kids are always watching and they follow our lead. What we do, they do. Even into adulthood. If all they ever see of dad praying is a ‘canned’ prayer before dinner, then that is all they may ever know to do. But if we pray from our hearts in a vulnerable, honest and intimate way, there is hope that our children will follow in our footsteps. That they will authentically lean on Jesus and not be ashamed.
- Not Showing Love for Their Mom in Front of Them – The best way to make your kids feel safe and loved is to love their mother. Openly. Kiss her in front of them, hug her, hold her hand and don’t flinch when your kids say “eww, gross!” because secretly they are grateful to know they live in a stable home. Don’t let your kids become another statistic because you were too shy to show affection for your wife in front of them.
- Flying Solo – This may be one of the hardest things to change as a man and father. Your family cannot be your only source of friendship and community. Good men need other good men. Our pride, ego and shame would tell us otherwise and keep us confined in solitude forever. Do not fly solo like I did early on. There’s no better way to get picked off by the enemy. Men are naturally inclined to do things alone. It takes intentional effort to build community, but you’ll be a better man for it.
- Not Having ‘the Talk’ – Your kids need you. They want to learn from you, but you cannot wait for them to come to you on everything. Approach your kids about sex and sexuality when the time is right. It’ll be awkward and unnatural, but if you plan your approach you will be okay. If you can spend hours and hours doing research and preparation for work, doesn’t preserving your children’s sexuality warrant the same effort?
- Trying to Be Extraordinary – Your kids don’t need you to be the best dad ever. They need you to be you. You don’t become famous by wanting and desiring fame. You become famous because you give every ounce of your energy into being good at something. The accolades come because you left nothing in the tank. Put the same with your kids. John Woodall calls it “3X.” Put 3 times as much effort into your kids as you think is required before puberty. You can’t ‘over-invest.’
All fathers have issues, but we can make progress by submitting ourselves totally to our Heavenly Father . . . by seeking His guidance and then obeying, by offering our kids up to Him and avoiding at least these five “father failures.”
What about you? Where can you improve? Did any of these hit home? Do other failures come to mind? Tell us about them here.