“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” — Proverbs 22:6
I read an article once that was titled “How To Be a Better Father,” which, of course, I felt I needed to read. It started at ten and worked its way down to the number one way to be a better dad. That number one reason was to be present.
I was a little confused at the time, but pretty quickly after becoming a father, I realized what it meant. Work, home, church, school; it doesn’t take long before we’re thinking about one while doing another. Just being present has become one of our biggest challenges. Dad, you need to be active in your children’s lives.
Active in Your Children’s Lives
The first thing they told me when I started paramedic school was to not bring the job home with me. Now sometimes that is easier said than done, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter what you do, that advice still holds. When you walk through the door, your kids don’t know if you had a bad day. They don’t know if your boss yelled at you. They don’t know if you spilled coffee on your brand new shirt at breakfast, and the day never seemed to improve from there. And honestly, they shouldn’t. There is a reason God gave us so much power or as I like to call it “old man strength.”
Sometimes it takes everything I have to walk in the door, smile at my girls, and get down on the floor to play. But you know what? I have never felt like a better father than those times. As a dad, there are times to express your feelings, and there are times to show your strength. The way to know the difference is prayer and lots of it.
Proverbs 25: 28 tells us, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” This scripture applies to much more than our home life. It applies to our “thought life.” Are you disciplined in your thoughts? Have you ever been at church, the band is playing a worship song, and you find yourself listening to the music instead of worshipping God? Or reading your Bible instead of listening to the sermon? I’ve been guilty of both of these.
How You Can Be More Present
So what do we do about it? The answer involves two things: the deliberate discipline of your thoughts and accountability. The first is done by yourself. Make a conscious effort to be wholly present in whatever it is you are doing. Keep your phone in another room while you’re playing with your kids. Turn the TV off so you and your wife can have a real conversation. WORSHIP the Lord Almighty during church and listen to what He is trying to tell you. You will notice an instant change in your life when you are purposefully present.
The second is accountability, and it is done both as an individual and with others. When you fail to be wholly present, admit it. This accountability could be as simple as saying, “I’m sorry honey, I was listening to the TV and didn’t hear you” (and it might be a good idea to turn that TV off at this point for your safety) or realizing you’re on your phone a lot and need to put it away. Use your spouse, a friend, or even a pastor to help keep you on track.
For more reading materials on Dad, You Need To Be Active In Your Children’s Lives, see below:
- Why You Need To Be Present In Your Kid’s Lives
- Dads, Use Your Tools
- Why Dads Should Listen to their Children’s Opinions