Being a father is difficult. You’re supposed to do everything: earn a good living, fix everything that breaks around the house, help with homework, have a close relationship with your kids… and still see mothers get most of the props for parenting!
It’s difficult to find the time to be the kind of father you’d like to be, but there are things you can do to make it clearer, if not easier! Here are five ways you can increase your interactions with your kids and enrich both your lives:
- Schedule dad-time. The things we make priorities in our lives are the things that actually happen. We schedule meetings, appointments, and visits with friends; so pull out that calendar now and schedule dad-time… and make it a regular feature. The occasional baseball game doesn’t cut it. Kids are most comfortable with predictable events, so find a schedule and stick to it. You can change up how you spend the time—just make sure that it’s as important as everything else on your calendar.
- Read all about it. Mothers seem to spend a lot of time reading articles and books about being a good mother; fathers seem often to believe they’ll get the knowledge they need by osmosis. Wrong! There are some great online sites for fathers. Make a commitment to enrich your parenting skills by reading something every week.
- Make every day Father’s Day. Yes, Father’s Day is about celebrating you, and usually entails cards and gifts and maybe a special meal together. But what it really celebrates is a relationship. When you get up in the morning, every morning, remind yourself that this is another precious day you can be a father to somebody. That’s a tremendous gift in itself!
- Don’t give advice, be advice. Your children watch you, every day. They observe how you handle challenges and crises. They look at your decision-making, your work ethic, and your relationships. You are their first and primary role-model, and so be sure you rise to the privilege. Live the kind of life you want your kids to see. Make the sacraments a major part of your life: go to Mass and reconciliation weekly, and there’s a better chance that your kids will, too.
- Listen, listen, listen. As parents, we “know” what’s best for our kids, and we often don’t consider their point of view. Even if ultimately you’re still going to say no to that party or piercing, listen to your kids’ requests, desires, dreams. Don’t begin interactions with a lecture. The more you listen to them, the more they’ll listen to you.
Perhaps the most important thing to do as a father is to pray. You’re not in this alone, and you can’t do it alone. You have monumental pressures on you, and you need to share your burdens. Consider using Father’s Day as a time to start a novena to St. Joseph… who knew all about the ins and outs of parenting!
You have the most important job in the world: preparing your children to become adults that they—and you—can be proud of. Celebrate the mysteries of fatherhood, embrace its joys, and ask for help when you need it. Happy Father’s Day!