In honor of Father’s Day I asked for input from young dads who are currently “in the trenches” of parenting. Like armchair quarterbacks, it’s easy for older dads with grown kids to offer sage advice, but it’s also easy to forget some of the day-to-day struggles. And, culture changes what some of those struggles look like.
The hardest part of writing the post was whittling it down because I got a massive amount of great stuff from several savvy dads (whom I will share for resources at the end because they are all worth connecting with).
So (drumroll) the top six things dads are dealing with today (in no particular order) are:
- Balancing work and family life.
- Effective co-parenting (especially as regards to disciplining kids).
- Teaching kids lasting, significant values and goals.
- Living out God’s model as a dad.
- Maintaining healthy relationship with kids’ mom.
- Financial future of family.
Some of these are age-old issues, but some are fresher problems. Finding balance between work and family has been a top concern of women for the past few decades but dads didn’t express this as a big problem in the past. Not sure why…either they didn’t have as much responsibility/ time at home or they could compartmentalize it better.
There are also many exciting, fun things pulling all of us (moms, dads and kids) in different directions: volunteering, church, sports, crafts, kids’ activities… Someone has to be the voice of reason and stop the madness.
Young dads are helping around the house in bigger measure and are eager to engage in teaching, nurturing and relating to kids more than in the past (perhaps?). They feel the pull to be home internally as opposed to external pressure.
Being able to get and remain on the same page where discipline is concerned is the source of many marital battles. Mine included. My husband was much tougher and I (especially in the rear view) was much too lenient. There are no easy answers but the key is to talk often (out of kids’ earshot) and present a united front. Even if you have to flip a coin, or alternate who gets to decide the consequence in each instance. Don’t let this divide you and try to listen respectfully to your spouse’s perspectives.
Teaching kids strong values can be challenging. It’s easier to make a preschooler’s bed than to wait for her to get it done. Saying no and letting it stand can result in a lot of unpleasantness. Watching the glee on your child’s face when you buy that special toy is tremendous… but they come to expect to get what they want when they want it without working for it. Saving for something is a wild idea. Teaching values is not for wimps and requires manning up!
Walking the Walk
It’s a fact that kids believe what they see. If dads don’t live out what they are teaching, kids aren’t likely to adopt values taught. Those little eyes and ears are on you all the time and when you drop an fbomb, skip church, yell at their mom or have a few too many cervesas they are storing it away in their data base-brains for later use. Being a man who truly wants to live a Godly life all the time is a tall order.
Kids will fare so much better when parents love and respect each other. Maintaining a good marriage takes work, sacrifice, humility and desire. Compromise is an absolute. Intimacy may need to be scheduled. (ugh) When parents are divorced it can be much harder to have a friendly/functioning relationship with the mother of your kids. It really should be a priority. You can only control your behavior, but you can certainly do that, and hope she will follow your lead. It will be so worth it over the long haul. (Think graduations, weddings and grandchildren!)
Money. Is it the root of evil? The bane of your existence? Or is it the ticket to freedom and happiness? None of the above. People around the globe live with little and with abundance. Some on each end of the wealth spectrum are very content and some will always be dissatisfied- seeking more. If money is the thing that drives you, that you talk and think most about or even worry about, you are not living the peaceful life God wants for you and your tribe.
Giving things up, living in smaller homes, taking public transportation and eating off the 99 cent menu don’t hold high appeal, but those things may be necessary for financial peace and freedom. Don’t be a slave to cash or the material things in life and you’ll teach your kids to be free as well.
A few last tidbits from the guys:
*Make playing with kids a priority. Fun speaks and teaches volumes.
*Don’t let peers or popular culture influence your parenting decisions.
*Stay calm in the midst of chaos.
*Look for unique ways to influence your kids (this takes double effort for part-time dads).
I hope to hear from some other dads in comments as well as perspectives from moms in the trenches.
A huge debt of gratitude to the following dads. I know you’ll want to see more of what they are up to and even say thanks.
K C Procter “You can be productive and present with your kids without losing your mind.”
Jeff Pennypacker www.underdogministries.org The value of masculine mentors.
Kyle Benoit- email@example.com
Joshua Zarzana Book: “The Son Who Chases the Father”
Ryan Bilello Twitter @Ryan_Bilello
Justin Farrell Book: God and Grandpa: Lessons Learned on the Road Trip of a Lifetime