5 Keys to Being a Great Dad

What makes a great dad? I have found that great dads practice five key principles: love, discipline, nurturing, instruction and training, and provision and protection. Read the following five points, and you'll learn how to not only strengthen your role as dad, but you'll also understand what being a "great" dad is all about.

As a great dad, you will:

  1. Love your children.

Just as the foundation of a new home has to be poured before the building can be framed, a father's love for his family is the foundation that supports and sustains everything else he does. When your actions and decisions are motivated by love, your family is on solid ground.

  1. Discipline your children.

Discipline clearly defines the boundaries of behavior and often dictates where we can and cannot go. Remember, there's a big difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is for the purpose of teaching your children good character and encouraging good choices. Punishment is often motivated by anger or revenge, and rarely works in the long run to change behavior.

  1. Nurture your children.

Nurture your children by showing affection, communicating affirmation, and giving attention. These three things will likely define the quality of the relationship you have with your children. This is often the fun part of fathering, because one of the best ways to nurture children is to play with them. Other ways include hugging, listening, sharing activities, and just goofing around together.

  1. Instruct and train your children.

Children often don't meet their father's expectations, which can be frustrating to a dad who wants the best for his child. But often it's not because the child isn’t capable or trying. Sometimes it’s because they haven’t been shown or trained properly. Picture this: your son or daughter starts working at a restaurant. They walk in the door on their first day, and with no training, they're sent to go help customers and cook the food. If that was the way the restaurant operated, I doubt you'd want to eat there a second time! And it wouldn't be fair to your child to make them responsible without being shown or told how to do it right.

Unfortunately, that's what parents do with children much of the time. The child is given a job to do and the parent assumes the child knows how to do it. But even intelligent kids need instruction when they don’t have experience. If you want your kids to learn how to do things correctly, turn off the TV, close your laptop, or come home from work on time so you can spend time patiently showing them how.

  1. Provide for and protect your children.

A great dad will provide security for his children and protect them from things that can potentially harm them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Talk to them about the friends they spend time with. Learn about the online sites they visit. Be willing to have uncomfortable conversations about drugs, alcohol and sex. It isn’t easy, but it is a worthwhile investment! 

When you practice the five essential principles, you increase the likelihood that your children will grow up to be the responsible and productive men or women you desire them to be.

Fathers, I know that you will fall short at times when it comes to consistently demonstrating the characteristics of a great dad - that's just a fact of life and we all blow it sometimes. However, I encourage you to remember how important your role is in the lives of your children. Your kids want a relationship with you, and want to connect even if you don’t do everything perfectly. So hang in there – you’re on your way to becoming a great dad!

Happy Father’s Day!

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

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