I’m not pretending to think this is original. Its more like revisiting something that we all know, yet we can tend to forget if we aren’t reminded from time to time – like that little light in my car that tells me its time to change the oil (now I no longer need to wonder if I’ve gone the requisite 5000 kms before my next oil change). What we all need reminding of (and I mean fathers, mothers, and anyone else) is what the good father does.
The good father takes responsibility for his family. Responsibility. A word we use lots, but what does it mean for fathers? It means a dad meets his obligations and fulfills his duties. It means he stays focused on those he has responsibility for. He is not distracted by people or stuff or work to the extent that his children wonder where and who he is. He provides for their needs – from the basics (food and a place to live) to the complicated (handling rejection from a best friend). He gets involved in the things that matter to his children. He knows his children’s friends. He is aware of what is happening in their lives. He has their best interest in his mind.
The good father creates stories with his children. Life is meant to be lived and to be lived together. Kids love the stories than come from life – stories they can learn from and share with others. Stories that connect them to their father. The father tells his children stories, but also uses life as a story to be written together. Parts will be sad. Parts will be mundane. Some parts will be down right hilarious. But when the parts are put together, memories, values, and character are all formed through life’s stories. They give a child the sense of being part of something greater than themselves.
The good father is not afraid to interfere in his children’s lives. There will be times when a father will see his child making a poor choice, like yelling at his sister, throwing rocks at a dog, or dumping the mashed peas on the floor. Fear will keep him from stepping in and changing the child’s decision. Fear of losing a friendship with the child. Fear of being too harsh or controlling. Fear of making a mistake. The good father steps in in spite of fear because it is what is best for his child.
The good father teaches his children things that really matter. And the things that matter most are: loving mom and treating others with dignity (great care). If these two things are modeled and taught before a child, they will have what they need to navigate their futures.
And the result: TRUST (ahh, my favourite word!) Children are longing for a guy in their lives who they can trust.
Dad – keep it simple. Be that guy. Be the good father.