Here’s another question I have gotten a lot from my clients. Let me give you some context: I have a lot of men who are my clients. Their question is: How can I be a better dad? (These could also be easily transferable to how I can be a better mom, all these points are for parents.
So how can I be a better parent? Here we go, first of all, why are we asking that question? Maybe it is because we feel like we are not doing a good job, or maybe it is because we are so busy working and don’t feel present all the time(sometimes it feels like or is the other parent (my wife, the mom, in our case) is there more. I’m not stereotyping, but these are the conversations I have with people. So I’m just telling you, I’m not making it up.
And my clients tell me: I don’t get to just come in and be dad and be happy. Sometimes, they’ll say: I just don’t understand my teenager or I don’t understand how my kid thinks and I have a hard time connecting. So I thought I’d give you four points about how we can be a better parent, better dad, better mom. Just so you know, I am a work in progress in every single one of these points.
Be the dad you want your sons to be in the future, be the mom that you want your daughter to be when they grow up and have their own kids. Be The Example. I think we over-complicate a lot of times what it means to be a great parent.
Be the example of how we handle difficult situations. Be the example in how we live our faith. Be the example of how we are growing and bettering ourselves. Be the example in how we treat other people.
I had fun this morning. I was going through Starbucks with the kids. While I was taking them to school and they said, Dad, dad buy the coffee for the guy behind us. And by then we were already past the window and I couldn’t, but I love that. They’ve seen me be generous enough to know that’s a thing we do. That’s an area where I’m getting it right.
How many have you seen your kids do something and thought, Oh crap, they got that from me. So point number one, how to be a better dad, be the example, be who you want them to become. Be love. Be grace. Be a servant. Be the example.
You knew this one was coming, because we live in the world where these little things can control our lives; phones, computers, technology. They can control. We can leave work and come home and still be working on our phones, right? We can leave work and not be working, but be distracted by mind-numbing social media, scrolling or ESPN, or for you ladies, the interior design pages or whatever it is… those things can rob us of the opportunity to be present. And this is a statement I shared on an earlier blog; wherever your feet are, be there, be there with your kids, be present with your kids.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to have this bad habit when I’m running errands and I am in the car with my kids and stop at a stoplight somewhere (you’re going to get so judgmental right now). I’ll pick my phone up and I’ll check whatever or I’ll send a quick text. What if instead of doing that, what if we put our phone in the arm rest? And when we stopped at that stoplight, we looked at our kid(s) and had a conversation, or we just had a conversation the whole time and asked them questions, even my nine-year-old. If I ask questions, they’ll answer.
I had a great little conversation this morning about taking back your power and living it into who God has called us to be. And I said, Hey, how are you going to use that power on the inside of you today? We were talking about Luke Skywalker and the Force. And I transitioned it, made it a teachable moment. But my son said, I’m going to use the force to make our gym teacher give us more gym time. And I was like, sir, I don’t know if you quite got the point… But the HUGE point is I was being present.
I don’t do this well at home in the evenings. And so I have this box on my dresser. I’ll put my phone in that box and I’ll just go be with the kids and be present; do more video games, less movies, or less video games and more board games, ultimately spend time with your family and be present! Just make a decision and set the intention.
Have some fun, laugh a little bit, play a little bit with your kids. If you’ve got young ones, this is like double time playing and having fun.
I’ve got a 14 year old daughter and I can play with her and I can have some fun and I can be silly. I’ve been accused of being the crazy dad. Be fun. I remember my daughter, this last year, maybe it was her birthday and we were at a soccer game and she was walking back off the field and all her teammates were there with her. And I started to say happy birthday to her. And she was embarrassed, but you know what? She still talks about it to this day. And like her friends think I’m silly and that’s okay. I don’t care what her friends say, but I made my daughter smile.
Just make your kids smile. Make them laugh, play a little bit, get down on the ground and get in the dirt or play with their Legos. Be fun. If you want to be a better dad, better mom have a little fun with your kids.
Don’t always correct them. Don’t always catch them getting it wrong, try to catch them getting it right. So be fun.
Speak into their dreams. Speak into their strengths. Speak into what you honor and respect in them. Speak life every day, all day. I’m not saying you’re not going to correct them, but speak life.
Listen, no one will ever make your family as much of a priority as you will. That’s your responsibility. So schedule it and protect it. Like Fort Knox, protect it.
Schedule it and then protect it like it is the most important thing in your schedule. I do this, even as a pastor, I’ve had to do this in the past because other people will not respect your prioritization of your family the way you will. And so I, when people would say, Hey, can you do an appointment now? I’d say, no, I have an important engagement that I can’t break. They don’t need to know that it was a lunch date with my wife or a date night. They didn’t need to know that it was my kid’s soccer game or football game. For them it was an important appointment that could not be broke because if I would have said, Well, I have a date night with my wife, then that gives them the space to say, Well, you can reschedule that.
You’ve got to do some things. You’ve got to set intentions and actually do the work. It’s not that complicated, but we’ve got to set the intention. We’ve got to show up. We’ve got to do those things. So I hope this was practical enough. Be present, be fun, speak life or schedule time. Which one of those are you going to work on the most? Go out there and we give greatness to the world because somebody needs what’s on the inside of you (Give it to your kids). Go out there and give it away.