Dads, I'm certain if your kids are older than an hour old you've begun to realize effective parenting can seem like the most challenging and frustrating thing you do in your life. Part of the difficulty in parenting comes because we value and love of children so much and we want the very best for them, so when they misbehavior or display poor character we get upset. But it is also this way because we are selfish and we have our own priorities that conflict with our children's wants and desires.
Children have the most amazing ways of pushing our buttons and driving us dads up the wall don't they? One of my kids always has to get in a last word, even if I've said 'stop talking right now' 99 times he will still try and make his point. Another one of my kids reasons and argues with me like a little lawyer and holds me legalistically accountable to every word I say. At times I almost need to plead the fifth when dealing with that child! My third kid walks around the house seemingly instinctively compelled to interrupt and/or ruin the calm, orderly behavior of any room he walks into.
I'm seriously considering building a small room in my basement with padded walls that I can go and sit in for an hour each night just to calm myself down!
And yet, there is nothing I'd rather do than be a dad. The smile of my son, time cuddling and tickling with my daughter, playing a game of catch with the oldest - all of these are moments that melt my heart. No matter how horrible the day is after they've been asleep just an hour I miss their faces and little hands hugging me.
It's important, Dads, that we continue to do our best to nurture and love our kids, without throwing in the towel during the tough moments. With that in mind, here's 15 things you and I can do to be better dads. And for the record, I have definitely not mastered these!
15 Behaviors to Make You a Better Dad
1. Pray for yourself and your kids DAILY
2. Chill out a little and don't sweat all the small stuff
3. Set your agenda aside and go with your kids' plans once and a while
4. Tell your kids you love them EVERYDAY, MULTIPLE TIMES
5. Discipline with consistency and out of calm concern, not anger
6. Be spontaneously generous
7. Love your wife well in front of your kids
8. Involve your kids in the things you do
9. Provide structure, clear expectations, consequences, and follow through
10. Be honest and keep your word
11. Admit your mistakes and sins, model repentance and ask your kids for forgiveness
12. Grass grows back & broken things are replaceable, don't ruin your relationship over 'things'
13. Take your kids on special dates, one kid at a time, and as a group
14. Don't gain compliance through yelling and physical intimidation
15. Finally, your kids behavior is basically your fault - they're built on your DNA