I posted this picture of me “wooshing” with my son, Nation, on my personal Instagram and Facebook and said, “A father is for wearing a hat and cape to “woosh” with a son.” People loved it and I thought doing a quick podcast about being a father — and 5 things I believe every father should be doing — would make a good episode.
I was blessed with having a great dad. I was also blessed by having cousins and many friends who had great dads. Good male role models in my childhood did a lot of good for me personally and I aspire to be a good male role model not only to my son but to our daughters and to all our kids’ friends as they grow. Being a good dad certainly looks different in every family and situation but I think there are 5 things that every father — no matter where they are or what their situations are — should be doing.
1) Laugh With Your Kids
Not enough good can be said about laughter. It’s the “best medicine,” “instant sunshine,” and as Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
To laugh with your kids is one of life’s greatest joys yet I’ve known many times when I find myself not laughing almost as if I’m afraid to laugh. As if laughing turns me into something less admirable. This is, of course, nonsense and any time I catch myself NOT laughing at something truly laughable then I let it go. Some of the hardest times I’ve laughed in my 44 years of life thus far have been in the last 6 years with my kids.
2) Cry In Front of Your Kids
As important as laughing is the opposite emotional reaction of crying. This is a harder one for a lot of guys because it goes against our social idea of manhood. Even though I’m not a “crier” in the general sense letting myself cry when I do want to cry is, I think, important. I cry at movies and stories. I cry at happy things… sad things… if something makes me cry I cry and I don’t try to hide it from my children.
3) Work for Your Kids
We are living in a lazy, selfish world. That includes me. Showing your children that work is an important part of life is a value they will never regret having. I work from home. My father also worked from home in the 1970s as a wedding photographer and set a great example. He kept a strict schedule. If it was “working hours” we knew what he was doing. No matter where you work, however, make sure you’re giving your job the honor it deserves.
4) Keep Your Word
If there’s one thing a kid learns faster than anything else it’s whether or not they can trust you. That’s why I think it’s so important that if I say I’m going to do something I do it, or I don’t say anything at all. Empty promises are often worse than empty threats but the father who keeps his word in any situation is one to be admired.
5) Pray for and with Your Kids
I can honestly say I have prayed for my children since I was a child. I pray for their future and present friends. Their health, location, desires, likes and hearts and spirits are all part of my daily prayer.
Praying with them is just as important. Not only prayers before meals and/or at bedtime but a concerted effort to make certain they see that prayer is the first and most important step in any situation — seeking the Lord to praise Him, petition Him and subject to Him in all things.
A Few Caveats
Obviously these things all have conditions. You don’t want to laugh at things your kids think are funny which are truly dangerous, insulting, or otherwise not worthy of laughter. You don’t want to cry about things that they might cry about. Work should always stop at the end of the work day and never should it become more important than family. Explaining why you couldn’t keep your word when you can’t is as important as keeping it. The only thing that has no proviso is praying. It should happen all the time regardless.
There were so many other things I thought about putting on the list — letting yourself be wrong, asking forgiveness, reading the Bible and so on and so on. These 5 I decided on because they seemed to be ones that are important and often overlooked.