I recently began a podcast series entitled Dad to Dad. In these interviews I sit down with another adoptive dad and talk about what it is like to be an adoptive dad—our shortcomings, funny stories, and what we find that helps us to father well.
Recently I interviewed Marshall Lyles (if you missed it, you can get it HERE), and I asked Marshall this question—What helps you to father well? I liked his answer so much that I decided to write about it. Marshall shared four very insightful ideas that help him, and I add one more. Even though Marshall and I talk about being adoptive dads, these suggestions are helpful for every father.
5 Insightful Suggestions to Help You Father Well
- Professional Therapy—This might be hard for most men to consider, but I agree with Marshall’s first answer. As he put it, we need to “monitor our own health”. Self awareness doesn’t always come naturally, so a professional therapist can help us accomplish that. What does this have to do with being a good father? Let me tell you a personal story. A couple of years ago I kept losing my temper with my son. Everything seemed to set me off. My wife brought it to my attention, well, really I was aware of it. Me saying, “I will do better”, didn’t cut it. I needed someone trained in helping me get to the root cause of why I reacted to my son with anger. I spent 3-4 months with a trusted, professional therapist who helped me process the cause of the anger and come up with strategies to help me respond with patience while remaining present.
- Good Friends—Men do have friends. We play sports and work on projects together, we go fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, biking with our friends. We have friends. But in order to help us father well, we need the kind of friend that will drop what they are doing and come support us when we need it. We need friends who can handle our most vulnerable moments. These men earn our trust and don’t hang us out to dry in a weak moment of uncertainty, fear, sadness, disappointment, and so on.
- Intentional Co-Parenting—Marshall didn’t put it in those words. Rather he commented on how easy it is for our parenting experiences to become isolated. In other words, the father has one set of experiences and conversations with their child while the mother has a whole other set. It is vital that we spend time as a couple parenting together when we can, and when we are apart, have uninterrupted time when we can share our parenting stories. Protect these times.
- A Heavenly Father—Marshall said it like this, “remind yourself that you still are being parented”. I know not everyone reading this has this kind of relationship with God. You might not even believe He exists. But oh the joy and comfort of having a relationship with God who is a loving Father. Marshall encourages us men to pay attention to our relationship with God and how He responds to us, especially when we throw tantrums, are disobedient, or even rebellious. This gives us not only a perfect example of how to father our children, God gives us wisdom, strength, and patience to father well.
- Continued Education—Marshall shares four relationally focused ideas. I add a more task oriented idea, but I personally find it also a must have. Acting as if we know all that we need to know or fathering with the attitude of “it was good enough for my dad so it’s good enough for me” won’t help us one bit to father well. Granted, hopefully we did learn how to father well from our own fathers, but even if we had the worlds’ greatest dad just like his t-shirt said, we can always learn more. I read. I attend conferences. I learn from my peers. And maybe one important thing easily overlooked—I learn who my son is.
In the podcast with Marshall, I state that as men we often try to do things on our own including parenting. The theme in this post is to encourage you to resist that tendency and involve others in your life so that you can father well.
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