Let me share with you Ten Tips for Dads. The tips are not all my own ideas; this just shows that there is truth to the statement, “There is nothing new under the sun”.
I can assure you however that I have practiced all these ideas with varying degrees of success. If you can put all these ideas into practice consistently, you will be a lot better father than I, which is essentially the whole point of the exercise.
1) Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan and put your family first!
In other words set priorities on how you spend your time.
I struggle with setting priorities, but I assure you it is imperative to list what is most important to you. I work hard at this one and fail regularly.
If your family is important, it will rise to the top. If not, it will always be at the bottom of your list.
Children spell love T-I-M-E.
Wives spell love A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N.
When we put our family first everything else falls into place.
2) Sit Down & Eat as a Family Once a Day.
Ideally the evening meal as it is often less time-pressured.
Make sure all technology if off including the TV and all mobile phones. I have heard of some families where all phones are switched off and put away. This is a biggy and you neglect it at your peril!
Eating together releases oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. This is one of one hundred good reasons to eat together as a family regularly.
3) Reserve One Night Each Week for Family.
I first picked this one up from the author of ‘Seven Habits of Highly Successful Families‘ by Stephen Covey.
This tip is a must-do. For each of my 5 children and in later years their spouses, Family Night Dinner Get Together was and is their favourite night of the week. Make it yours too. You will not be disappointed!
4) Develop an Attitude of Gratitude.
You as a father must be thankful if you want your family to be thankful. Practice on your children and your children’s mother.
Teach your children to say thank you from a young age. Say thanks to God (Grace) at each meal. Always thank the cook and at the same time practice giving as a family. Giving and saying thank you are two sides of the same coin for happy families. Scientific studies have shown that thankful people are happy people.
5) F-U-N is a Three Letter Word.
Children understand this from a very early age.
Plan fun times and family outings. Fun can be spontaneous but works well planned in advance.
Fun, nine times out of ten, means activity: camping, hiking, swimming, touring, sport, dancing, bicycling, exploring, hunting, boating, surfing, fishing, sight-seeing, travelling, playing music, going to concerts, barbecues, digging a garden, working together, eating together, playing together and the list goes on. Fun is what you make it!
6) Turn Off the Television, Computer and Other Electronic Gadgetry.
Having a technology free day once a week is essential. Alternatively ration technology.
When our children were young we did without a TV for several years. It was one of the best things we did. It forced us to communicate with one another and all my children became good readers. Too much screen time not only kills the brain but the heart as well. Put a premium on human interaction and do everything you can to encourage it. Those with good people skills will always go to the top of their chosen field.
7) Daddy Dates.
You can’t go past this one.
This is one thing I have not been as successful at as I should have been, but when I have taken time to do something special one-on-one with my children, I have seen a massive return on my investment of time. Some dads do this each week with each of their children.
8) Participate in Your Children’s Activities.
Help them with their interests, their hobbies, their homework, their sports, their music.
Doing so brings you down to their level. Remember the song ‘Cats in the Cradle’ by Harry Chapin. Be involved in their activities when they are young and they will be with you for the rest of your life.
9) Adopt a Family Hobby or Activity.
For many families this is sport, for us it was music. The family that plays together stays together is a wonderful truism. There are many activities that you can adopt. What makes your heart sing? Follow the sound you hear in the hearts of your children.
What do you do well and what do you enjoy?
What do each of your children do well and enjoy?
Answer these questions and your family hobby or activity will be staring you in the face.
Famous rapper MC Hammer said, “You gotta pray just to make it today”. Or in other words, ‘The family that prays together stays together’.
Find a church that your children enjoy but most importantly enjoy the One you pray to. The chief end of man is not to be boring but ‘enjoyable’. If your spiritual life is something you enjoy, naturally it will be contagious. Heaven will always be at home in a joyful heart. We must become the change we seek. Our children will do what we do, not what we say.
If you have never done any of these tips before and you try to introduce them without proper consultation with the family you could end up with World War III on your hands. World peace starts in the home. Talk to your wife, talk to your children about implementing these ideas. Ed Cole said, “The place of agreement is the place of power”. The younger your children, the easier it is to introduce change. The important thing to do is to make a start. Start with the easy ones. Get some runs on the board and then build on your success.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. I have failed at all of the above Dad tips not once but in many cases several times. You can do them all but it will take time. If you could put all of the above ten tips into practice regularly you will be doing better than me, which as I said before is the whole point of the exercise.
Yours for doing better than me