Six Secrets Smart Dads Use to Rule the Roost

W Allen Bell on June 17, 2012

6. Zig-Zag - When your kids are expecting you to zig, zag. Do you struggle with anger? If like most men, anger is an emotion you can generate a bit too easily, why not be intentional about developing strategies to respond in new unexpected ways? Nothing, not one thing, communicates love and respect more than unmerited grace. Forgiveness is the universes’ life-giving answer to human shortcomings. Figuring out this emotional behavior and mastering it is the difference between an average human male and a refined, truly great father. You who have the patience of a glacier and whose children take your grace for granted, your zag may be exercising the skillful art ofDo you struggle with patience like a glacier? Me neither!Do you struggle with patience like a glacier? Me neither! intentional, measured confrontation. A once permissive dad who learns to actively parent in creative, life-giving ways is building the kind of family that bolsters nations.

5. Senses – Surely it was a wise, ancient patriarch who first engaged his child’s senses of touch, hearing and smell through originating the time-tested pulleth dad’s finger challenge. Beyond that “Homeresque” routine, toddlers need to feel daddy’s stubbly whiskered face before shaving. What kid can forget the menthol smell of Barbisol, or the aroma of dad’s morning coffee?  Children from the age of 13 to 38 appreciate when a father delivers smoky, sizzling steaks on hot plates to a family dinner table. Never stop engaging your kids 5 senses. It literally creates permanent places in their minds where your love, affirmation, provision and playfulness will reside forever.

4. Life-long Learner – The phrase: “You don’t know what you don’t know” is inescapable in this mortal life. Dads who rule the roost, seek wisdom in every season of life. Let your kids catch you learning. Take a cooking class. Never fished? Why not hire a fishing guide, and learn? Struggling at work? Talk with your kids about it and go to a conference to uncover some new approaches that are working in your industry. Let your kids see that you are always learning. They’ll copy you.

3. Prune Your Own Orchard – Life is like gardening. Weeds are inevitable. You have been busting your tail to provide for your family. Between life’s chores, bills, required meetings, events and milestones, you have some personal shortfalls you know need attention. Like an orchard, your personal life requires regular pruning. This seasonal discipline of cutting dead wood and even live branches needs an experienced gardener’s skill and eye. Find older men who you deeply respect and ask them about how they navigated your season of life. You’ll be surprised that all of them had to consistently cut things (good & bad) out of life and often graft new things into their lives to be so fruitful over the long haul. 

2. Adventure Investing – Have you ever been pursued by someone wanting your business? Invited to a ball game by a vendor? Was it fun or tedious? The best salesmen eventually learn that relationship with a client involves investment and they make enjoyment a core component. Think of each of your children as the most important client in the world. You will always have knowledge they need to buy. How will you earn and retain these biggest customers? I suggest adventure investing. If your kid is 4 years old, take him or her backyard camping. When my children were toddlers, I was shocked that a wealthy man I admire was taking his sweet 10 year-old daughter to a very underdeveloped part of India to visit an organization he funded that was purchasing the freedom of enslaved families from a rock quarry. Along the way he also took her shopping and to nice resorts. This man showed his daughter that literal emancipation still occurs every day somewhere on the globe because of generous, hard working, justice minded people. The sheer idea of such a trip was crazy. But I could only imagine what kind of woman my friend’s daughter will become because of her personal exposure to such important work and her dad’s relational investment. That young lady could inherit all of this man’s money and she’d probably not waste a single dime. What crazy adventure could you take your kids on that would change the ways both of you see your town or even your lives? Maybe it's a week vacation in a state park or a day volunteering at a community event. Don’t make it tedious. Make adventures memorable, frequent and make them count in your relationship with each kid so that these most important clients will always choose to buy the wisdom they need so deeply for you to sell them.

1. Honor Their Mom This high-wire act is most complicated for single dads. A father who becomes a single dad strengthens his kids by always communicating that the relationship that birthed them was authentic and special. Honor does not ignore dysfunction or unhealthy choices, but through grace and self-control a man can build his kids sense of worth by taking the high road (always). Now, us married dads have a tough enough time pruning our own orchards. The health and primacy of your marriage relationship can do wonders for your adult children and grandchildren’s marriages. Men, you will always benefit from thinking long-term. Imagine the legacy your grandchildren will inherit because you learn to reign in your anger. Consider the dividends future generations of your family will enjoy because you invested relationally. For you married dads, the heavy lift of parenting is a season. Those sons & daughters will begin families of their own in the blink of an eye. Love your wife, live with her in an understanding way. Let your kids know that their mom is esteemed and honored. 

Happy Father's Day 2012!