Becoming The Father Your Children Need
There are certain things that effective fathers do differently from all other dads. In fact, there are at least seven things. We call them the seven secrets of effective fathers, and if we learn them, we, too, can become better fathers.
That said, here are the seven secrets of effective fathers gleaned from the insights of respected journeymen:
You may have turned your heart toward your children, but are you communicating that? Do your children know without a doubt that, in your heart, they stand head and shoulders above almost everything else? Verbalize your commitment to your kids, let them know you are accessible, and look for occasions (even create them) where you can simply have fun with your kids!
2. Knowing your child
What separates effective fathers from all other fathers is that they are also aware of who their children are as individuals. They know each child’s distinct personality traits, talents, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Our research revealed that effective fathers know when his child has a difficult day or is upset, the names of his/her best friends, what encourages and motivates his child the most, when he’s hurt his child’s feelings, when his child was embarrassed, and most of his child’s recent disappointments.
Our research shows that an effective father is consistent in his moods, his presence in the family, his keeping of promises, his morality and ethics, his daily schedule, and his hobbies and interests. Of these categories, becoming consistent in your moods may prove to be the biggest struggle. But it is a struggle in which you can find victory. Many times, men who are inconsistent in their emotions are that way because they had fathers who were inconsistent. But we can make what I call regular and wise “midcourse corrections” to avert many life crises by a choice of our will. And just like a captain to his crew, the committed father turns to his family to bring them safely to port by saying, “Because I love you and want to guide you safely, I’m going to make the effect to draw a new map.”
Our children need us to not only know their needs and work to meet those needs, but also to see us protect and provide for them. While some protective issues may be less visible than in days when we circled the wagons, there are still plenty of occasions where a father must rise up and protect those he loves, particularly in a crisis. A father’s positive response in the face of crisis is crucial, and though he might not be able to prevent a crisis, his actions can do a lot to determine the outcome when the crisis does occur.
5. Loving their mother
I have struggled to understand this secret. It seems to leave little room for variance. What about fathers whose wives have left them? How can these men apply this secret after they have experienced marital disruption? This secret creates a great difficulty for those men who sincerely love their children and want to be effective dads, but who have a hard time loving their children’s mother. The question is: Do you love your kids? Then one of the best things you can do for them is to love their mother–or at least maintain a civil relationship with her while committing to never undercut or disgrace her in front of them. The main benefit to your children is an atmosphere of security. And if you’re married: date your mate, model teamwork, show affection in front of your kids, or take your kids with you when you shop for a gift for your wife.
6. Active listening
Effective fathers have learned the discipline of giving their full attention to their children when they are speaking. They allow their children to disagree without becoming angry, and commit to creating an atmosphere of caring and acceptance that encourages them to share their ideas. Because the goal of listening is to gain an understanding of how our child perceives the situation, we will need to expand our skill set in learning to ask thoughtful, open-ended questions to grasp what our children are thinking and feeling.
7. Spiritual equipping
Actually, it’s understandable that many fathers feel inadequate when it comes to spiritual matters. We’re surrounded by many other people who seem so much better equipped than we are to foster our children’s growth. But don’t tell me that spiritual equipping doesn’t matter to your kids. They’re listening to what you say about God, and they take great comfort in your consistent, heartfelt expressions of faith in the Almighty. Effective fathers understand the spiritual aspects of their children’s lives, and they work to help their children discover their own relationship with God.
7 Secrets of Effective Fathers™ is a 7-week course offered by SpoFI to graduates of the 24-7 Dad® Basic (AM) class. This teaching is based on decades of research by Dr. Ken Canfield, founder of the National Center for Fathering. Based on interviews with over 10,000 fathers, Dr. Canfield has identified seven character traits that help make fathers more effective in their parenting and relationships. Classes typically meet Wednesdays once a week for seven weeks but this schedule is subject to change. Check our Registration section for the next upcoming class.