Just the other day, when I was talking with my son, I caught a look in his eye. It was was one of love and affection. It’s the same look I gave him when he was born. In those moments I realize the big shoes I have to fill and a sweet soul to protect. Simply put, the stakes are high and I cannot let him down. When the stakes are high and there is no room for failure we must be our own master. Here are four things every dad should master.
1. Master your anger.
Anger is a constant struggle, stemming mainly from some disappointment. Disappointment with unmet career goals, productivity of the day, or maybe a loved one not measuring up. When it comes to the most precious things in our lives we master our anger by releasing those disappointments and being present with our kids. Being present with my kids, seeing the world through their eyes, has always helped me understand where their behavior is coming from. With those two things in mind I realize scripture is true, my anger does not produce God’s righteousness (James 1:20).
2. Master a transferable skill.
Men are doers. Hardwired into us is a need to produce something. Though it might be exhausting, how restorative to your soul is fixing a car, remodeling a room, learning to play a new song, putting together a family trip, or just cleaning up the yard. These are great opportunities go a little slower and pull your kids in and teach them what you know. Even if you don’t know much you can show them how an adult figures things out and learns. Studies have shown that with skill acquisition comes a boost in confidence. I think that confidence comes with learning something new and the fact that it comes from dad, that only increases the bond shared. Pick a skill or hobby and include your children in that skill, it will cost you more time, probably more money, but it will be worth it in the end.
3. Master the art of connection.
This is chemistry...brain chemistry. Going through our day we can be lost in our thoughts from work or the task list at home. This can cause us to barrel through the house and wanting to avoid the chaos created by the little humans in the house. Though your children won’t go pouting off to their room when you avoid connecting there is a missed opportunity. Connection with a parent brings about an understanding of their true self worth. This must be caught rather than taught. Light up your face when they enter the room, put the bandaid on that injury only they can see, look them in the eye and enjoy the love you have for them, finally smile more. Mastering the art of connection will not only make your children feel more worth but will teach them how to connect with the others.
3. Master the art of apologizing.
Last, master the art of apologizing. Only one man has, in all ways, lived up to his expectations. That said, we can only expect to falter in our fathering. And when we falter, the only way back into connection is to authentically apologize. Apologizing does a few things: it brings you back into connection faster, teaches your child how to apologize, and will actually strengthen the relationship.