Happy Father’s Day! I hope and pray that it is a day of spoiling, rest and enjoyment with your family. I also hope that it is a day when you stop to consider your role as a dad and pause to reflect on how you can fulfill that role in a more meaningful way. I know that you feel a great deal of pressure already and so the goal of this isn’t to add more pressure, rather it is to provoke you to think about really simple ways to make your limited time with your kids count. You matter in the lives of your kids and they need the best you to help them to become the best them.
Here are five principles of fatherhood that I try to remind myself of every day. May they serve you well.
It is almost impossible with most of our schedules to be present at all the things that matter in our kid’s lives. But we can make sure that we are fully engaged when we are around. The problem isn’t necessarily that we work too hard, but rather that we continue to be at work long after we leave the office and our kids deserve better than that. I have a simple routine on the way home where I give myself a pep talk as soon as I turn from William Nicol into Republic Road. I have to switch my focus and posture from “work Ross” to daddy and husband. Daniel shouldn’t pay for my bad day at work. He has been waiting all day to see me and it is tough for him to understand if I seem already burned out and irritated when I walk through the door. So I use the last 10 minutes in the car to turn off the work switch and turn on my daddy face. My goal is to put my phone down with my keys when I walk in the door and to not give the messages, missed calls and emails on it another thought until long after Daniel is asleep.
Do everything you can to be the first responder in your house. Be the first to apologize, the first to affirm, the first to serve, the first to help, the first to laugh and the first to sacrifice.
Dads have the capacity to be the mood architects in their homes. They may not always be aware of it, but their moods can be contagious and over time they can become the tone of the family. If you want to have a home that’s fun then you need to be a guy who is fun to be with at home. If you want to have a home that is loving and warm, then you need to be a dad who is loving and warm. Home is not the place to play it cool. Set the tone, and watch your kids imitate that.
Fatherhood, like a lot of things in life, is a long run and not a short sprint. Some days will be better than others. Some months will be tougher than the rest. When you fail to live up to what you would hope to be as a dad, apologize, and then get back up and try again. Lots of days of faithful living start to stack up to a legacy that is worth passing on. Legacies take a lifetime to create and you will stumble along the way. Keep at it. Keep going.
You are not Superman and you cannot do this in your own strength. Don’t hide that from your kids, but rather bless them with the gift of a visibly prayerful dad. Pray with your kids, pray for your kids, pray over your kids and the kids they will one day have. Give your kids a lasting image of a loving dad who frequently put his hand on their little heads and said, “Let’s pray”.
Happy Father’s Day.