Dads, your special day is coming up! Hopefully you will feel loved by your children whether you spend a quiet day with them, receive a note of love—maybe a phone call—or attend a fun barbecue. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about connecting with the people you love and remembering the moments that are special. (And no, Father’s Day may not get the hoopla of Mother’s Day, but we don’t mind that—moms deserve it!)
Father’s Day is a lonely day for some. I wish that weren’t so! Sometimes loneliness is directly caused by a father who did not understand how important he was to his children. Or maybe a young man was afraid and ran away from responsibilities he didn’t understand. Some men are divorced and do not have a good relationship with their children’s mother, and when that happens, the mother may choose to stand in the way of a father and his children, for better or for worse.
But let’s concentrate on the dads who are present and engaged! The kind of father you are shapes your children. For example, an anxious father can be over-protective and can, therefore, limit a child. On the other hand, a father with a cavalier approach will not protect his children enough, nor will he notice when they need help. Likewise, an authoritarian father can cause anger, fear, a lack of creativity, and create much tension in the home, while a father with a free-spirit may raise children with discipline issues or a lack of needed structure.
Does your fathering style come close to any of these fathering types? I suggest that each and every Father’s Day you step back and look at your fathering style. Look at the things you do well and the things you need to work on. None of us are perfect, and we don’t have to be perfect to be great fathers. But there is nothing wrong with working hard to be the very best father you can be.
Successful fathering will not happen without reflection. But how does one reflect upon one's fathering style? Many of us have a tendency to “shoot from the hip” as dads. How can you tell if you are as good a dad as you hope you are? When someone suggests to you that you are doing some aspect of fathering wrong, where can you go to know for sure if they’re right or not?
Every Father’s Day, consider re-evaluating your fathering style, especially if you still have young children in the home. One way to do this is through research. When it comes to learning and educating themselves on parenting, dads are a very distant second to moms. In my book, The Power of Dadhood: Be the Parent Your Child Needs, I have compiled a simple checklist a dad can use to complete this self-evaluation. You’ll find it in Appendix B of my book, though I have also placed a summarized version here for your review:
Are you there for them?
Do you help face fears?
Does your family cooperate with and support each other.
Are you a good example?
Do you build character?
When you have finished your review, you will have an idea about the things that are important in fathering, and you will know where you stand on those things.
If you take the time to reflect—and I hope that you will—I know you can become the father you want to be.
Happy Father’s Day!