I haven’t had the privilege of being a father yet, but somewhere down the line I hope to be one. Fortunately in my own life, I have a great example to follow, the very man that raised me, my dad. Sure he isn’t perfect, has an anger that you don’t want to mess with when his favourite football/rugby team is losing and has his daily frustrations, especially due to a back problem from playing rugby in his younger years on a daily basis but none of this takes away from who he is, a great father.
I imagine it’s a scary prospect being a father for the first time and there certainly isn’t a one size fits all model for being a good dad. I believe though that there are a few things that can really make a difference from my own experience with my dad that I would like to share them with you and hope they offer insight into the challenges of fatherhood.
One thing my dad made for me was time, in everyday life there are a lot of things asking for our attention, certain things that need to be done. Unfortunately, some things we believe can’t be ignored grab our attention more than the needs of a child. If I ever wanted to speak to my dad or do something nine times out of ten he would give me his time. A child needs to feel secure and listened to, when you give your son and daughter time it shows that they matter, it shows you care, more than any gift or message. The most memorable experiences with my dad have been the one’s we have shared together. I was bummed out by not passing my driving test when I was 17 and his response, let’s go to the cinema and see Anchorman. A negative situation that turned into a positive through the thoughtful act of my dad.
Another thing my dad did really well was be encouraging in what I was interested in. Even today he loves listening to the similar music I do, watch the same sports and regularly wants to know what I’m doing. When I was younger and played basketball he loved to come and watch me play and always looked at the positive’s from my performance. Now, as a coach for a U10’s basketball team you can see the different methods of coaching from parents, I certainly feel the best response from the sons/daughters who are encouraged. That doesn’t mean you can’t pick out weaknesses or things that can be improved but there are ways to do it. When giving advice be enthusiastic about what your son/daughter is doing, it makes a real difference. It may not be something you were hoping they were going to be interested in but it is worth making the effort to find out more and do all you can to share their passion and dreams, they will love you for it.
There are going to be difficult times in which your son/daughter may not want to talk to you (especially those teenage years) but just allow them to know you are there if they need someone. I loved how my dad genuinely cared for me and always told me how proud he was of me, this made it easier for me to talk to him about any problems I had. At the end of the day your son/daughter are going to make mistakes and you need to give them the opportunity to admit them. There is no point over reacting as this can just make them feel worse so listen and guide them in the life lesson they are being taught. Using your own experiences can be so important to, many times my dad reflects on his rugby playing days and tells me how you don’t give in when your nervous or scared, that you believe in yourself and your abilities. The fact he has been in a similar situation helps me believe in what he says, as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
I guess the most important thing I can advise is that you have a vision for how you can be a great dad. A vision that when your child gets older they want to still speak to you regularly, still share experiences and that they still ask for your advice. My dad has succeeded in seeing this vision become a reality and there is no reason why it can’t happen for you to. No matter what faith background you may have this verse from the Bible sums it up perfectly
‘And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’Mark 1:11
If you are a father reading this you are truly blessed and make sure you enjoy every moment of being one of the biggest influences in your child’s life.