Becoming a Dad is not an easy path to follow, and it is not a journey for wimps.
Dad stands on his own feet, pays his own way, and sacrifices short term gratification in favor of long term goals. He abandoned the life of bachelorhood to establish a home, and he stands ready to protect it around the clock.
Dad is tough enough to insert his arm up to the elbow into an overflowing toilet to dislodge his son’s scuba diving toy wedged down below. He’s tender enough to sit in a tiny chair at a pint-sized table to enjoy his daughter’s tea party. He’s unselfish enough to read aloud the same book for the hundredth time, complete with inflections and sound effects. He’s smart enough to invest time in the kids during their formative years when they are in pursuit of his attentions.
Kids barf and cry. Kids travel at light speed from docile and cooperative to uncontrolled and belligerent. Does Dad fritter away his time asking, “What was I thinking?” No, Dad embraces the challenge to raise those kids in love. He brushes off the one who stumbles, and encourages him to try again. Dad models consistency and patience mixed with a generous dose of kindness and firmness.
Men, often there is a fine line between warrior and wimp. It’s easy to let down our guard and stray across that line. Put these behaviors into practice, and leave no doubt as to our status.
Dads do not have the option of abandoning leadership responsibilities. Abstaining on issues, hoping matters will resolve by default, often results in an undesirable outcome. I can and should delegate some decisions to my wife, but I must then support her choice. Complaining after the fact is not warrior behavior.
One of my greatest assets is my wife. Men, if we investigate we will find that God paired us with a partner who complements us. Her strengths and my weaknesses mesh, as do as my strengths and her weaknesses. Why would He join us that way? Review the plan for marriage. Two individuals are supposed to become a team of one. How better to cement that bond than through mutual dependence?
Cleaning up, picking up, washing up, and straightening up are not tasks assigned at creation to our wives. We should lead the family in these endeavors. Our good example is worth more than scores of lectures. Why not make a game out of it and enlist help? Start while the kids are small, and maybe they will grow up knowing that house maintenance is everyone’s chore.
Be miserly in accepting commitments.
Watch over the level of outside commitments for your family. It is within your authority to say no. Add family blackout nights to the calendar and break out the popcorn and board games. Kids are in a race to reach adulthood. Some sprint, some plod, but all are moving toward the goal. Our time with them is fleeting, and we must impart enough wisdom so they can make life decisions for themselves. That transfer happens by osmosis during their contact with us.
Be the heavy.
Hey, I’ve made decisions my kids despised. Sometimes I had reasons, and others times I was working from the gut. Losing percentage points in the polls is not a warm feeling, but we cannot switch positions just to be accepted. Being Dad is not about winning a popularity contest, and my kids do not need a 45 year-old buddy. Man up. Kids need a father who will build walls of safety around the home and guard it religiously. They need the consistency and the freedom that rules provide.
Listen twice and speak once.
It is easy to jump to conclusions, especially with our pace of life. We can bring our competitive take-no-prisoners mindset home from work, but it may not resonate with tender children. Sheath the sword, dial the intensity back, and slow down. Listen before acting. Get the facts. Take a breath. Ask for clarification. I learned the hard way that on occasion my girls only wanted a listening ear, an understanding hug, and the confidence that Dad was beside them.
Sure, we can join multiple sports leagues and be away from home full-time. Many guys in their 30’s and 40’s are on a life-long quest to rediscover the glory of their high school athletic accomplishments. Men, we need to invest time at play with our kids. Tag. Kick ball. Hide-n-go-seek. Spotlight. Story telling. Campfires. Wrestle with them. Spread a blanket under the stars and learn about the constellations. Start a bug collection. Plant and tend a kid-sized garden. Email me if you need suggestions. Please, respond with a comment if you have ideas to share with other Dads.
Kids, especially teens, need to witness Mom and Dad in love. Hug her. Smooch her. Waltz her around the kitchen. Hold her hand in public. Wear matching outfits to school events (this one drives teens nuts!). Speak to her with respect and love. There is no greater aspect of being a family warrior than loving my wife.
Pursue a relationship with God.
The answer I give my daughters on many occasions is, “I don’t know.” But God does. And He promised to share His wisdom, if I ask. (See James 1:5). We need to retain our distinction as men of God, and we require a certain type of wisdom to recognize the pitfalls around us. James described what we need.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:17, NASB