I can think of very few things as important as the role of fatherhood. Unfortunately, too many men are way too willing to step down from the mantle of fatherhood and into the lower tier of “buddy” or “bro.” And, while fatherhood may include elements of being friendly or being buddies, fatherhood entails so much more.
Today, I share 10 strategies for ensuring you succeed as a father, which ultimately means your kids succeed as adults.
1: RENDER YOURSELF OBSOLETE
I made this strategy the first one I address because everything else falls behind the overarching theme of fatherhood – putting yourself out of a job. The ultimate objective of any father should be to raise fully functioning, self-sufficient men and women who will one day leave the nest to go out on their own and add value to this world.
Unfortunately, we see way too many sons and daughters (sons mostly) who live with their parents long after they should mooching off the people who have the responsibility to cut them off.
This isn’t an easy job and it’s not always fun. Frankly, it’s not really even that pleasant to think that your job is to get your kids to a position to where they don’t need you but that’s exactly what it is. And, if you can wrap your head around that idea, everything else I share with you today will be that much more effective.
2: MODEL THE MAN
In order for you to raise sons and daughter who have the desire and ability to be successful on their own, they are going to need a healthy role model to look to. That’s where you come in. It’s your job to model the type of man you wish your boys to be and the type of men you wish your daughter to be with.
It’s not enough to live by the mantra, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Our children need more from us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Does this describe you? If it does, you have some work to do. Your children are watching you. They talk like you. They act like you. They think like you.
What does their behavior say about the type of example you’re setting?
3: MAKE LIFE FUN
Life doesn’t have to be boring. Learning doesn’t have to be miserable If it is, is there really any confusion about why are children just won’t engage in school and other learning opportunities? Of course not.
If, on the other hand, you can learn to engage them in a fun and creative way, you’ll have the power to teach them everything they need to know to be successful adults without them being miserable about it.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that this level of fun should come at the expense of discipline and structure. You need a healthy dose of both. Life isn’t always fun but that certainly doesn’t mean it never should be.
4: PROVIDE DISCIPLINE AND STRUCTURE
I realize that you may be thinking this is at direct odds with what I suggested and, maybe it is. But it is imperative that while you show your children how fun and engaging life can be that you also teach them it is best to operate in a set of parameters you deem worthy.
There is a really disturbing trend in society today that seems to suggest we ought to let our children dictate everything about their lives. That is a grave mistake. Children do not have enough life experience (or a fully functioning brain) to make their own choices on important decisions in their lives. That’s why you’re the parent – to lead, guide, and direct them in a healthy manner so that they can, at some point, become strong, capable, and independent.
Your children need to understand the lines that are in place to keep them safe and progressing. Allowing your children to run wild with no supervision or guidance is selfish and destructive to their well-being.
As Jocko says, “Discipline equals freedom.” Let them experience how discipline will set them free.
5: LET THEM FEEL THE FULL WEIGHT OF THEIR CHOICES
Too many parents are too quick to rescue their children from themselves. Now, there are obvious reasons where this would make sense but there are a significantly larger number of instances where it’s okay to let your children experience consequences for their choices.
If you keep rescuing them every time they mess up, they’ll keep messing up. This isn’t rocket science. If you rob your children of the pain of bad decisions, they won’t learn to correlate dumb decisions to pain which is actually a very positive correlation to learn.
You are no the superhero and your kids don’t need rescuing. They need to learn through experience what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior. Sometimes it’s best for you to just get out of the way.
6: ROUGHHOUSE WITH YOUR KIDS
Roughhouse with your kids because it develops strength. It develops character. It develops the understanding of boundaries and how to be physical with another human being. There’s so much good that comes from this.
And, when it comes to roughhousing with your daughters, I learned a valuable lesson from my guest, Dr. Warren Farrell. He suggested that your daughters need to learn how to be accepted by other men outside of sexual attention. When you can teach your daughters that they are important to you, they will grow up with a healthy sense and approach to masculine attention. If you cannot be present for and with your daughter (even in roughhousing), they may begin to seek attention from men by using their body and sexuality.
Roughhousing is good for both boys and girls.
7: DON’T DO THINGS FOR YOUR KIDS THEY CAN DO ON THEIR OWN
This tip falls in line with number 5. Yes, it’s always going to be easier and faster to do things for your children. Remember, you’ve been doing for decades what they just learned.
Don’t fall into the trap of doing everything for your kids, regardless of how much they beg you to. Easier and faster isn’t the goal when it comes to raising children. Obsolescence is. So, empower your children by allowing them to come up with the solutions to their own problems, challenges, and tasks. You’ll be surprised at how resilient children are when there isn’t the easy way of having mommy and daddy do everything.
8: CREATE EXPERIENCES
It’s easy to want to buy your children things. It’s fun even. You get to see them light up and get excited. But you know that is short-lived. Toys break. Technology gets outdated. And, all the “stuff” you own loses it’s luster and practicality fairly quickly.
If you really want to do something for your children, work on creating experiences for them. Take them camping, hiking, or fishing. Show them the world. Take them to unique places. Experience life.
These are the types of things that will have a long-lasting impression on them. These are the types of things that show them what we’re capable of and all the opportunities this life presents. Stop buying so many things and start creating experiences instead.
9: LOOK FOR TEACHING OPPORTUNITIES
One of your primary jobs is to teach your children how to do live. We do this by taking time out of our day to teach them. I used to overlook so many lessons I could have taught my children simply because I thought that they’d just “get it.”
They won’t just “get it” unless you help them make the connection between the experience and the lesson. Sure, this is going to take a bit more time than not addressing it at all but if you really want your kids to win, you will help them see those connections.
Create margin in your day. Ask your children questions about their experiences. Share yours. When you do this, you will see their little wheels turning and be able to take pride in watching them grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
10: LOVE YOUR CHILDREN
You’d think this one would go without saying but it doesn’t. It doesn’t because when I say, “Love your children.” I don’t mean to say, “I love you.” Love is a feeling but it’s also an action.
If you love your kids, you will do what is in their best interest, not yours. This means that despite how you feel about certain things, you understand that the long-game approach to their well-being will serve them better in this world.
You’ll be less impatient. You’ll be slower to rescue them. You’ll be hesitant to do things they can do on their own. And you’ll do this because you know how it will serve them down the road. Fatherhood is not an easy role. It takes a lot of tough times and hard work to turn children into self-suffient adults but it’s what we do because we love them.
This mantle of fatherhood is such a high calling. It’s such an important role in the lives of our children and in society in general. I hope that I always live worthy to hold that title. I hope that I’m able to incorporate these ten steps in my children’s lives. Sometimes I feel like I’m the least qualified to give any advice about how to be a good father. But every time I’ve gone out and I’ve done these things, and I’ve engaged my children this way, they’re better off for it. Please take these things to heart. Take action. Be a good father. Be engaged with them. Implement these things into their lives, and everyone will be better served.