My wife and I were recently blessed with our first child. A beautiful baby girl. Words can’t describe how amazing it was to see and help out with the birth of our daughter.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the old saying of wishing kids came with instruction manuals. I didn’t get a manual, but I did get a great book from my mother called “She Calls me Daddy” by Robert Wolgemuth. Within the book was a CD from a broadcast from Dr James Dobson from Focus on the Family. In this CD, Dr Dobson had Dr Kevin Leman, author of “The Difference a Daddy Makes“, as a guest. Dr Leman highlights 7 steps in being a good father to your children. I’ll list the 7 steps and then share some thoughts as well.
7 Steps to Being a Good Dad
1. Honor your Wife
In his talk “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Howard Hunter, a former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, states “…one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
I believe this to be true. In my father’s second marriage I witnessed how deeply he cared for my mother and how she loved him in return. It brings a peaceful spirit to the home. I noticed how he would help with cleaning, cooking, and worked very hard to provide for the family. He was (and still is) a deeply religious man who strives to live a good life and serve the Lord. His example is what turned me around when I was wayward as a youth. I pray that I can implement the good I saw in him into my marriage and strive daily to love and support my wife with her various duties.
President Hunter also mentions that helping is important, but also important is telling your wife that you love her and respect her. Both actions and words are important to nurturing and honoring our wives. If we haven’t told our wives how much we appreciate them, I encourage us to do so.
2. Be There for your Kids
There were times after my parents were divorce at one point or another where one or the other parent was completely out of the picture. I’ve shared in previous posts somewhat about how much anxiety and depression it caused for me later on. From personal experience I know first hand how crucial it is to be there for your kids.
Being there means much more than merely sharing a physical presence with them. This means emotional and moral support for their dreams and goals, disappointments and failures.
3. Believe in your Kids
Having a dad who believes in you and trusts you can make all the difference in the world. I remember when I wrestled in early high school and seeing my father in the crowd. He didn’t like wrestling, but it meant that much more to me in my performance when I looked out there and saw him there to cheer me on. It made me feel like he believed in me. Kids need a father to tell them and more importantly show them that they believe in them even when they make a mistake.
4. Let your Kids Fail (but be there to pick them up)
I can see how this step could be the hardest step. However, sometimes the greatest love is to stand back and allow our children to fall. For their sake and the sake of others sometimes, it is necessary to let the child learn on their own. However, it is very important to be there for them to pick them up after they’ve gone through the experience.
Many times our children are struggling to obtain a good thing as well and it can be tempting to want to do it for them. It is important for their sakes many times to allow them to struggle and be there for them.
As I was thinking about this step, I also thought about probably the greatest father-son relationship: Jesus Christ and Heavently Father. Throughout Jesus’ life he turned to Heavenly Father for guidance and gained strength from Him through prayer and direct communication. At the end of Jesus’ life, both He and the Father knew Jesus needed to go through his suffering on the cross for our sakes. This one time, Heavenly Father stood back and allowed the Savior to go through intense suffering and Jesus cried out “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
5. Strive to be Good…not Great
Being LDS and Christian have many great qualities, one of which is the striving for excellence by living as good and wholesome of a life as we can. However, I’ve frequently seen people in the church who put pressure on themselves to “be perfect as God is perfect” because that is a commandment. People then busy themselves with so many church activities, callings, and striving to be perfect. The moment they make a mistake, they beat themselves up over it. I’ve fallen into this trap before as well.
The author makes an excellent point by advising to just be good…not perfect. Allow your kids to see you as a human with flaws and mistakes. When you make a mistake, turn to God and allow Him to pick you up and make the difference for your shortcomings.
6. Compliment Kids
The author advised to give our children “commercial announcements.” Commercial announcements are encouraging statements about a child’s behavior. Examples include: “I think you choose great friends.” “You did a great job cleaning your room.” “I like the way you treat your brother.” Or any other compliment. These quick 15 – 30 second “announcements” encourage good behavior and build a child’s trust in you as a parent.
7. Don’t be a “Disneyland Dad”
Finally, the author states not to be a “Disneyland Dad.” Especially after a divorce.
Disneyland dad’s are the dads who show up once or twice a year and promise the moon to their kids. They treat them lavishly for a few days and then leave them for months at a time. In my opinion, this type of a behavior is just like going to Disneyland for the child: a rollercoaster. An emotional rollercoaster that destroys trust and a steady and stable relationship.