Are you a Prepared Dad?

One of the best things that you can do as a dad is to be prepared. Whether it is the scouts, military, businesses, or first responders, the motto is the same. Are you prepared? The lives of your children are paramount. The raw truth is that you most likely care about them than those outside of your home. That being the case, what are you preparing for? There are people, places, and circumstances that you need to think about. What is it that you need to know? You must have  knowledge of the tools and skills you will need. You must also have knowledge of the environment.

This may sound like I am trying to make you think negatively. On the contrary, being prepared for the good, unexpected, and bad is a very positive thing. What is it that you must possess or be able to perform to be a good dad? This article will be a first in a series discussing different needs or problems that you will or may need to address while your kids are home. These issues may require your presence, advice, verbal intervention, or action. So before we dive off into specifics, what resources and or skills do you need to bring to the table to be a prepared dad.

  1. Love
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Protection
  4. Provision
  5. Praying
  6. Teaching
  7. Counseling
  8. Supporting
  9. Listening
  10. Correcting
  11. And laughing….or being fun.
  12. Etc.

Along with these resources and skills, there needs to be a knowledge of any environment that your children may find themselves in. Examples of this are 

  1. Home
  2. Off with Extended Family
  3. Friends’ Homes
  4. Church
  5. School
  6. Sports or Social Groups
  7. Common Places
  8. And New Environments

No matter who you are, your kids are going to have needs, problems, serious issues, and even emergencies. How do we become prepared to assist or help them in their time of need?

We must start out by being observant. In the book Visual Intelligence by Amy Herman, you are taught to observe things that you may typically overlook. This is an amazing read. I highly recommend it. We need to take time and observe, really see and know the environments in which our kids interact. These environments are “where” their needs are going to surface. Depending on that environment, you may call on different resources and skills to best provide for them. 

Communication is key to know what to do when to step up or restrain yourself from getting involved. Many times, your kids won’t even know they need help. On the other hand, there are times when they will want it, but the best thing for them is to work it out on their own. How do you know what is right?

Before we move into this little series let me make a qualifying statement. Besides a physical threat, you and your spouse will rank these issues differently. The FIRST time you encounter a particular issue, it can appear larger than it really is. Let me quote from the Complete Survival Manual. “STOP. 1. Stop 2. Think 3. Observe 4. Plan”. Most people don’t realize that outside of an imminent threat, YOU HAVE TIME…use it. Give yourself time to respond instead of reacting. A sense of calm not only allows you to see more clearly but also calms others down. Whether you are on the inside, a display of calm spirit says you have some amount of control in the situation. This comforts others.

Over the next week, I will be posting different scenarios that you may encounter with or concerning your kids. Let’s serve our children well by being prepared, or as much as we can be. Thinking, communicating, and planning can go a long way for you to be the best dad possible. Don’t miss tomorrows post.


The Mistakes that Dads Make

Last night I wanted to be someone else for a few moments. My wife and I were at a worship service. Standing in front of us (everyone was on their feet) was a family. It consisted of a macho looking cowboy, his wife, 2 boys, and 1 girl. The kids were from ages 8 down to 3 (the girl). Both my wife and I were having flashbacks. We are now empty nesters watching this amazing family. All of the children were hugging and holding on to their parents with equal love and admiration. Wow, I was in tears. I was looking at the richest man in that room. I don’t know if he knew how fortunate he was/is. I just knew that this rough-looking guy had a gentle and caring touch. He was a hero.

This got me to thinking about the other dads. I pondered all of the fathers that did not “get it”. They screwed up, wasted time, and lived selfishly. It made my heart hurt. I don’t know how many men I have encountered that now live in regret. They shattered relationships because of a lie sold to them by the world on top of selfish ambitions. The lie was/is the perceived definition of what a real man is and the American dream (what you achieve and possess).

There is a way of thinking that we as men must get away from. That being said, I put together a list of the top mistakes that I believe men and dads make that prevent them from being the best dads possible.

  1. Your alpha male needs to be in check. Assert your dominance by being in control of your emotions.
  2. Life is about the glory of your creator, not you. The idea of “you”… do what is best for you, loving yourself, putting yourself first, looking after #1, is the epitome of evil. We should put others before ourselves.
  3. You will never be cherished in the memories of others because of your achievements and possessions. Only your love and giving will achieve this.
  4. You don’t know everything, quit acting like it.
  5. Winning an argument is not always winning.
  6. Avoiding issues does not make them go away. Sometimes it requires difficult and unpopular decisions for the betterment of those you love.
  7. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence because of the crap that comes with it.
  8. Immediate gratification usually ends up in regret.
  9. Doing what is right can be a very lonely feeling.
  10. Listen….stop….and really listen. Learn the ancient Chinese art of shut up. We talk too much. That is why we don’t learn.

The minute that you turn off your ears, mind, and hearts, you lose. “Pride comes before the fall.” – Proverbs 16:18. You can try to do things your own way. After all, we men, like kids, don’t like to be told what to do. We are even this way when people want to help us. It sounds kind of stupid, doesn’t it?

As a Navy Seal, the goal is to achieve the mission, not to demonstrate how tough you are. Don’t believe me? Check out Raising Men, by Eric Davis. I think we can all agree that the SEALs have the market cornered on being a badass. However, they will not engage or “make contact” if they don’t have to. This has a great lesson for us men and dads. Unfortunately, most of us care too much about how we are perceived by others. This gets in the way of doing what is in the best interest of those we love. 

You are called to love, provide for, and protect your families. You are not called to be the roaring lion or a dictator in your home. Are you tough? Show your strength by doing what is right regardless of opinion as well as having restraint. Power is being in control, this includes your attitude and words. We must be disciplined to put others before us. Evaluate yourself and be the best dad possible.


Making Kids Proud of their Dad

I have to admit that I want my children just as proud of me as I am of them. I have read many articles and have seen many a television show or movie when the topic came up. “I just wanted my dad to be proud of me”. I’m sure you have heard it many times. Many of you may even feel the same way. Perhaps your father did not show or verbalize his pride in you. This breaks my heart every time I witness it. There is no way to undo wasted opportunities. 

Perhaps you were a father that has failed in this area. Start where you are. That’s all we can do. How do you start? Humble yourself. Apologize for missed opportunities. Assure your kids that you are proud of them. Lastly, make an effort to regularly affirm your kids. Unfortunately, you can’t force the response that you want. Perhaps they will be accepting of your efforts. In some cases, they will not, or it will take time. Most of the time, I believe that kids programmed to “want” to believe that your dad is proud of you. Therefore, when they receive it, they grab it. Many kids that even abused or neglected don’t want to view their parents as bad.

A dad once asked me how long I thought it would take for his kids to “come around”. He had come to the realization that he had failed at affirming them. I told him that was hard to say, but I gave him an illustration that a fitness trainer gave me when I asked how long it should take to get in shape. The trainer said, “I don’t know. How long did it take for you to get fat?” I did not take offense to it. To me, it became the perfect visual (no pun) for the phrase “it will take time”.

For me, and I bet for many dads reading this, we want our kids proud of us too. This does not get the same amount of attention in articles or entertainment, but for me it is huge. Many of you may not know this, but at one time I was the most popular man in the world. I would come home and the most beautiful girl in the world would run and jump into my arms. I would not give that up for anything in the world. There was no way to elevate me higher. I would never be as important as that time. I was addicted. That same little girl also chose to sit with me at lunch every day her senior year of high school. I worked at the school she attended. Did you hear what I said? She CHOSE ME! It still chokes me up today.

My boys show their adoration in the form of respect and seeking me out on decisions that they are about to make. They want my advice. They value my words. It is very humbling. Especially now that they are grown. They don’t have to listen to me. They don’t have to do what I say. I feel very honored when they seek me out. Again, I would not trade it for anything. 

Having my children proud of me is something that I attribute to 2 things, the grace of God, and having a dad that affirmed me. I have to admit that I was and am blessed. However, some of the best dads I know had crappy fathers. It does not have to be a vicious cycle. You can learn what to do and what not to do. You have the ability to decide to turn left or right. You have the ability to say “I am going to do a good job as a dad”. Then you have to start the process. Just start from where you are. Just as my daughter did for me, you can CHOOSE them. That is what they want. They want to feel their worth and importance. This, in turn, will make them proud of you. 

When kids are proud of their dads, it becomes an addiction. Can I get an amen from some of the dads? If you haven’t experienced it yet, I’m sure you will be addicted the first time it happens. I love to see young dads get kisses from their little ones. I think to myself, “he’s hooked”. They are your children, but they will “own you”. It is what makes everything worth what we go through in our daily grind.

Through the years I have been asked by my students what it is that I want more than anything on this earth. I tell them that I want my kids proud of me. Most of the time this causes a look of confusion. I either get 1 of 2 responses. 1. “That’s it?”. My response: “Yep”. 2. “Your kids already are proud of you”. My response: “Then I guess I have everything that I want”. I just want to do all that I can to be the man that they need. I also want to be the best dad possible.


Dads can be Heroes

The hugs and kisses that you get from your children are more valuable than gold. There is no such thing as a richer man than one that is the target of a child’s embrace. I wasted have of my life thinking about what success was and getting wrong. Chasing what is supposed to be the American Dream is crap because it is about what you have. It is materialistic or vocational status. 

My father was/is a very “decorated man”. He has built hospitals, been a big dog in Rotary International, the man of the year, an employee of the year, founder of several charitable organizations. He has been huge in his church and community. He was/is a go-getter. At 87, he works 2 jobs because he “wants to”. He also can drive a car like a pro. He is always on the go. However, he keeps telling me that none of the recognition and awards mean anything. What means the most to him is family. He looks back his life with regret concerning his schedule, wishing he would have spent more quality time with the kids. Ironically, he was always there as far as I can remember.

When I became a father in my early 20’s I was still immature and had no idea what I was doing. I don’t think that most young dads embrace the little things that make life wonderful. I became a quick learner. Being with my kids became the most awesome and valuable time I was spending at home. I loved getting trampled by them when I would get home from work. After dinner, it was playtime that usually resulted in tickling and wrestling. This was usually followed up by the dad trampoline. This was quite simple. I laid down on the floor and the kids would practice diving onto me. It was like we had our own pro-wrestling league and they would come off the top ropes to the roar of the crowd, which was actually the laughter of the others.

We would laugh, love, chase, wrestle until we were all pooped out. Then it was time for showers/baths. Once “jammies” we on, it was snuggle and veg time. My boys had energy from sources unknown. Any efforts to get them to sleep was a chore. However, my daughter would crawl up into my lap and lay her head on my chest/shoulder. She was OUT…lol. I never wanted those moments to end. I was a King! I was the richest man on the planet. Keep your riches and gold. I had everything I could ever want.

There are so many dads that miss out on this time. I feel so sorry for them. This is a time that sets up a success and open relationship that can continue for a lifetime. You need to start as early as possible. However elementary or basic these things may sound, don’t pass up these opportunities if at all possible. This when you can become a hero. Play with them. Do embarrassing and stupid stuff. Show me a dad with a daughter that never wore nail polish, make-up, or a crown at his daughter’s request, I will show you someone that has missed out.

So what if you missed those opportunities? Then you start from where you are. You will hear me say this many times. You can always start the race from where you are. This is the wonderful cheat of the dad world. I would never want to default to it, but it is there. However, I want to give you some clues on how to get on the hero list of your kids, whether they are biological or not. So here is a list that may help:

  1. Listen more than you speak. Dads like to give advice. Be cautious before you dive into this trend.
  2. Kids want to be heard, not necessarily having every issue solved for them. The one that listens to them is golden.
  3. Don’t dismiss their fears and anxiety. This is a common dad screw up.
  4. Be a ROCK. Don’t give in to things and ideas that you know are unhealthy or don’t serve the child’s best interest.
  5. Love them more than your popularity with them.

Being a dad is awesome but difficult at times. If you love your kids without limits, you will need to endure times that are difficult and uncomfortable. You must put yourself through the wringer so that they will have the best chances at success and growth. Dads, you can be the hero, but it will cost you. It won’t be a title given but earned. You can do it. Be the best dad possible.