I know. Creepy title right? It's true though, if you're a dad, you're being watched! Great news, huh? Maybe you recall, years ago, Charles Barkley said, "I am not a role model." Guess what, he is and so are you, whether you want to be or not. At NFI, we often say "a father plays a unique and irreplaceable role in his child's life." What does that mean? What's so unique and irreplaceable about you, dad? I'm here to tell you, in case no one else does, that you are unique and irreplaceable. And being unique and irreplaceable is a great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes great sacrifice...
Do you recall the five traits of the 24/7 Dad? Just in case, here's the recap:
- The 24/7 Dad is Self-Aware: The 24/7 Dad is aware of himself as a man and aware of how important he is to his family. Read more about The Importance of the Self-Aware Father.
- The 24/7 Dad Cares For Self: The 24/7 Dad takes care of himself. Read more about The Oxygen Mask Rule of Fatherhood.
- The 24/7 Dad Understands Fathering Skills: The 24/7 Dad knows his role in the family.
- The 24/7 Dad Understands Parenting Skills: The 24/7 Dad nurtures his children.
- The 24/7 Dad Understands Relationship Skills: The 24/7 Dad builds and maintains healthy relationships with his children, wife/mother of his children, other family members, friends, and community.
We're unpacking each of these traits. We started with The Importance of the Self-Aware Father. Last time we talked about The Oxygen Mask Rule of Fatherhood and how a dad must take care of himself if he wants to take care of others. Here's the great news...these five traits have a guarantee: master each of them and you are a 24/7 Dad. Let's talk about trait three, a dad and his role in the family.
The 24/7 Dad Understands Fathering Skills
The 24/7 Dad knows his role in the family. He knows he is a model for his sons on how to be a good man/father and for his daughters on what they should look for in a husband and father for their children.
He knows he should be involved in the daily life of his children; from waking them in the morning to attending parent-teacher conferences, helping with homework, and tucking them in bed at night.
Consider some tasks in your home:
- Who dresses the kids?
- Who gets them ready for school?
- Who packs lunch?
- Who cooks dinner every night?
- Who attends parent-teacher conferences and other events?
- Who volunteers at school?
- Who supports their sports and other interests/activities?
- Who helps with homework?
- Who reads to them (or with them depending on the age!)?
- Who tucks them in at night?
Of course the daily schedules of work factor into this equation; however, if your answer to EVERY one of these questions on a DAILY basis is “mom,” then we have a problem. Being dad isn't a license to provide a paycheck and sit down. We say in our fatherhood training programs that a 24/7 Dad "uses his knowledge of the unique skills he and his wife/the mother of his children brings to raising his children." Either we live like dad makes a difference or we don't. But, the truth is, whether you're a good dad or a bad dad, you are making a difference—for good or ill. You are modeling something to your child every moment.
Said a different way, if you weren’t in the family, would anyone notice based on the daily initiative you take? Okay, I'm done with my rant. There is hope. After all, it's Father's Day week and we are about the business of raising up and encouraging fathers to step up to the plate.
Here are three things to encourage you in your role as leader in your family. You are vital. Now, go live like it!
1. Know Your Child's Interests.
As a dad, and I know more than anyone, it's easy to get wrapped up in your own interests and not consider others' interests. But we're done with that old life, right? Say you have a daughter who likes American Girl dolls? Well, you think American Girl dolls are stupied. This is a conundrum. But not anymore, now that you're a 24/7 Dad, you care about American Girl stuff. Stick with me here. You're now the resident American Girl expert in the room. You know the difference between Addy and Josefina because your daughter does. Don't ask me how I know this.
What's that? You have a son and the American Girl example doesn't resonate with you? Does he play with Lego's? Well, you're a master builder. End of story. Everything is awesome in your house because YOU are your child's dad!
Ask your children about their favorite things. Be intentional about creating daily time, maybe at dinner, to let your kids not only talk about their favorite things but come up with a list of things they would enjoy doing.
Set a reminder on your phone if you have to, we have the 24/7 Dad® To Go app for that you know, but be sure to have unhurried time to connect with your child. This doesn't have to be a long time. I sometimes have a day or so where it's just me and the kids. But in most cases, I don't have hours to devote daily to staring into my daughters' eyes. But, daily, if even for a few minutes, there should be time to listen and let them know you value them.
2. Know Your Schedule.
Consider stopping unnecessary routines and starting better ones. The point here is to reflect on your daily or weekly routine and see where changes can be made. Are you constantly working late? Is there something you can change during the day to get home earlier? I know this is a simple example. But the point here is to stop and think about how you can best manage your time.
Do you have enough energy for the day? If not, consider steps to feel better. You shouldn't always feel tired or hurried. The folks I know who are constantly "too busy" are usually the folks who are doing the least during a day because they aren't in control of their day. It's a difficult balance and some days are better than others. But, you can learn to better manage your schedule so you don't carry around regrets.
3. Know Your Family's Schedule.
I tend to realize there's an event on the evening of said event. And it's not because I haven't been told about it. It's because I was told months ago and didn't add it to my calendar and have since forgotten about it. As a leader in your home, create appointments with yourself on your calendar to remind you about checking in periodically. It's too easy to get busy and often consider EVERYTHING as IMPORTANT when in reality, not everything is important.
We need to be clear about our roles in the family if we are going to live together in peaceful harmony as a family. The wife and child must understand dad's role and the dad must understand his worth and how he is "unique and irreplaceable." Show me a man who understands his role in the family and I'll show you a father who carries himself with a higher purpose. I'll show you a 24/7 Dad. Basically, the 24/7 Dad lives like someone is watching...because someone is.
The 24/7 Dad asks himself: How well do I “Father?”
My friend Don Jackson knows what being a 24/7 Dad means. He wrote Being a 24/7 Dad over at his blog Daddy Newbie. Don gets dadding—all of it:
Fatherhood leaders > Wear this unique t-shirt to show how proud you are to be a leader. Give it to dads who attend your program or as a graduation gift.
Dads, Moms, & Children > Wear this shirt to show your passion for fatherhood and inspire those around you to live as responsible fathers. Or, give as a gift to a dad you know.
Question > What's being a 24/7 Dad mean to you?