Being a dad is tough, but it is the most important job we will ever have. Not to mention the fact that the majority of us probably feel completely lost and unequipped for the role of father. For the longest time, I was told to “lead my family” but no one would tell me how! It is an ambiguous expectation and at times seems like I’ll never figure it out. Experience over time helps; we learn the “tricks of the trade” as we try and fail, and try again. But there is a turning point in fatherhood when we take a proactive approach, rather than a reactionary one. We cast a vision, we have a plan that we begin to implement and take steps forward.
There are a ton of resources I have filtered through over my short, 6 years of being a dad, searching for the “key” to fatherhood. The most recent that has had a tangible impact on that endeavor is a book by pastor and author Bryan Loritts entitled, The Dad Difference. Drawing on his own experience of being raised by a father who took a proactive, visionary approach, Bryan unpacks four key areas that we should focus on as a father, even changing my perspective as a dad, describing them as gifts we give to our children. His main thought is based around these four gifts- How to Parent R.I.T.E.
Relationships - Integrity - Teaching - Experiences
Relationships take proximity. “We cannot lead effectively those we are not connected to intimately. Healthy relationships demand presence, grace, and time” (Loritts, pg. 27). Our first gift as a father is to be present in the lives of our children. But just being around isn’t enough… there has to be intentionality in our presence.
A goal that I have set for myself is to do one intentional thing with my kiddos every single day. No tv, no phones, no interruptions. One moment every single day where they have my undivided attention. Whether that is playing a board game, jumping on the trampoline, going to the zoo, reading some books, playing make-believe in the treehouse or asking about their days at bedtime. These little moments of intentionality add up over time. The cumulative effect is a powerful thing- small actions, repeated over time, have great and lasting results! Simplicity and consistency are huge motivators for kiddos too!
This gift is all about us and what our kids witness as we live our lives. “More than listening to what we say, our children will watch what we do. When actions and words become one, we call that integrity” (Loritts, pg. 62). Arguably one of the most important gifts we can give our kids is following through and doing what we say we are going to do. This is also arguably the most difficult gift because we know we are going to fail at it. The other end of integrity is admitting when we’ve failed and to ask for forgiveness. “Apologies are the voice of the humble. It takes a humble person to say sorry, to acknowledge and confess a wrong. And it is humility that becomes the lifeline to a healthy, vibrant relationship with our children” (Loritts, pg. 73). It’s our job to show our kiddos how grace works- it being extended to them and in turn, them being able to extend it to a dad humble enough to admit when he was wrong, or lost his temper and ask his children for their forgiveness.
Try it out
Next week we will release “Part 2” of our blog Figuring Out Fatherhood, where we will chat about Teaching and Experiences. In the meantime, try out one of the gifts listed above, either Integrity or Relationships and comment below with how it went! Also, here are some resources to help you along your journey as a father.