This is the first piece in a three part series that is dedicated to becoming a better father right now.
If you want the PDF of this three part series as well as the video series which accompanies each segment, you may buy it here (PURCHASE FATHERHOOD FOR MODERN TIMES) use the code ‘LEADER’ for 15% off.
this series was originally an email when I was writing under the pen name Hunter Drew on the Family Alpha Newsletter.
The response I received from fathers prompted me to turning it into a piece for the blog so more men could get the word and begin raising their standard today.
There are plenty of “Dad-Blogs” which have a very direct headline stating they’ll make you a better dad, then they offer nothing but a giant word fest which teaches you nothing to apply to your life to actually become a better father – that’s not my style.
I’m going to provide some legitimate “real world” recommendations that I’ve tried and tested, then it is up to you to decide the best way to implement the advice in your world.
Your family is unique to mine, you’ve got to take my approach and apply it in your own manner.
Perfect example: I coach my son’s baseball team – Your kid might play soccer.
Take the theme and apply, not the literal words – be smart.
Presence > presents
Getting involved in your child’s life is the single greatest step you can take to building a better relationship with and development in your child.
Having a kid is not “your chance to do it (life) over again“.
They are unique to you and have their own goals and desires.
You should be fostering a relationship with them which is going to allow them to pursue their own goals, display their own strengths, and then turn into functional adults.
I don’t have all of the answers, my kids did not come with an owner’s manual, but I have seen the difference between my children and others and the involvement of a father creates a stark contrast to those where the father is not around or involved in their life and development.
Here are 10 immediately applicable actions you can take as a man who is leading a young child.
1. Talk to them:
Seems simple enough, right?
I see so many adults talking at their kids; they don’t ever take the time to listen to what their kid has to say.
When my kids speak, I give them the same level of attention I give an adult who is speaking to me.
If you give more attention to this blog post than you give to your children when they speak, you’ve got a problem.
Your children will share great insights to their character, goals, fears, and more when they speak.
Pay attention to the subjects they bring up.
Pay attention to what they focus on or what they hide from when you ask them about their day.
When you ask how their day was, follow up with a question about a specific topic they mentioned:
You: How was your day?
Kid: It was boring, I had art.
You: Oh Yeah? What did you do in art class?
Something along those lines.
Kids aren’t stupid and they aren’t immature beyond discussion.
Speak to them and listen when they speak to you, every day have an in depth discussion with your child.
2. Spend time together:
I don’t mean this in the sense that you’re both in the same room together watching TV.
Take your kid outside and play catch, push them on a swing, draw together, or play with Legos.
Do something together that requires you working side by side thus creating a moment where topics can be discussed, laughs can be shared, and the simplicity of life can return.
- No technology
- No stress
- No worries
3. Struggle together:
Doing hard things strengthens character, doing hard things together forges bonds.
Hiking a mountain with a young child provides an opportunity for you to sweat with your child.
Minimalist camping does the same.
Working out together, running together, writing papers together, etc.
Do hard things together.
Sometimes I’ll write in my notebook while my kids do their homework so they can see me grinding too.
Sometimes when I know I’ve got to do some hard yard-work I bring them with me. They get in the way more than they help, but they see me struggle and I include them in it.
It makes us all better.
Your children need to see that just because something is hard it doesn’t mean that it needs to be avoided or that you can quit.
4. Be intentional:
As a child’s father (or father figure) you should have goals.
You should also have goals for those around you.
I have goals for my wife and children which to me only makes sense. Before I set their goals in my head, I analyze their strengths, weaknesses, preferences, etc.
From there I decide what I’d like to see of them, then I directly relay that information.
I want my daughter running, my son training for his hitting power (baseball), and my wife growing her personal business.
I’ve set very intentional actions in place to help each achieve them.
I train with my son, daughter, and am helping my wife learn the “internet” side of the house with regards to her business.
Don’t just hang out with your kids, have goals and be intentional with the hours you spend with them to help ensure they’re going to go somewhere in life.
Without having that compass, you’re spending a lot of time sending energy into the world when you should be channeling it to achievements.
5. Bring them with you:
Your children are going to follow your example, not your advice.
- Let them see you reading.
- Let them see you exercising.
- Let them see you working.
Your kids need to see you doing these things.
You may absolutely kill it at work, if all you do when you come home is “relax” then Monday through Friday all your wife and kids see is you relaxing.
That’s all they know.
Bring them with you when you grind and work on the development of self.
They need to see that side of who you are as a man, so bring them with you.
6. Show up:
I coach my kid’s teams – whatever the sport.
I’m the head coach of my son’s baseball team and we won the Championship this year. That isn’t a humble-brag, it was to set up the delivery of this point: I’ve never played an official game of baseball in my life.
I played football growing up; my son loves baseball, so I taught myself the game and volunteered to coach.
You don’t have to be the best, have a background in their passion, or know exactly what it is you’re doing – just show up.
Volunteer at their school, get on the field of their sports however you can, go out and do things, don’t watch others lead your children.
7. Let them fail:
Parents are so afraid of their kid fucking up.
Kids need to fail and they need to learn how to deal with failure.
There have been so many times where my wife has said “don’t do that.” and I’ve had to interject and tell my kid that they should go for it, but it’s going to be hard.
Whether that is climbing a rock, tree, competing in something, or trying to hang with older kids – it doesn’t matter.
I’ve seen my kids fail so many times it is ridiculous.
I never allow them to put themselves in danger, but I’ve let them get the scrapes and bruises pursuing glory.
When your kid fails, take it as an opportunity to teach them why and how they can train so that they don’t repeat the failure.
Your child failing isn’t a bad thing, it means they had the balls to try.
8. Challenge them:
We live in an age where every hard edge and corner is covered with a pillow.
Every sharp object is hidden.
Everything is rewarded and nothing is punished.
Spoon fed children in bubbles are creating man-children and irresponsible women acting like teens as they age.
Make your kid better.
Make sure that your child faces hardship and is challenged to pursue greater standards week by week.
Take the time to recognize their accomplishments so they don’t get the “nothing is good enough” complex, but challenge their efforts.
- Your kid scores a touchdown/gets a hit, challenge them to get two and train them on how to do so
- Your kid gets a B, challenge them to reach an A
- Your kid reads a level 2 book, get them level 3
Keep raising that standard, comfort breeds complacency.
9. Treat them as future adults:
Don’t talk to your kids like they’re babies, they aren’t.
Don’t treat your kids like they aren’t capable of understanding certain concepts, they’re ready.
Kids will get it, if you explain it to them.
I understand that there needs to be a certain level of preserving their innocence, but kids need a healthy dose of reality as well. Give them that level of respect, they can handle it.
10. Don’t be a Hypocrite:
This goes back to Example > Advice
- Don’t tell your kid to read if you don’t.
- Don’t tell your kids to exercise if you don’t
- Don’t tell your kids to pursue their goals if you don’t
Don’t be a hypocrite.
Their standard is set off yours, so set a high bar.
Live the life you expect from your children.
If you want your children to reach the highest of heights, pursue them yourself.
Remove the excuses – start today.
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