In these past years, I have spent many hours speaking with good men about becoming better fathers. These have been some of the best conversations of my life.
My strategy comes from the philosophy of peaceful parenting. This is much different from the traditional methods that our parents raised most of us and how many raise their kids now.
Being a better father takes a lot of hard work and is often undervalued in today’s world. For me there was no greater path to masculinity than becoming a good father.
It is challenging to break bad habits. Especially when we start examining the data and environment, we are creating in our home. Most parents are on the authoritative side of things, with almost 90% of parents still spanking their child as a form of discipline.
It is easy to ignore all the studies and all the negative outcomes attributed to spanking your child, but it is painful to face the truth. Ask your child how it feels at that moment, what they were thinking and what did they learn. Imagine if we asked the person we were striking with our hands how this made them feel and owning those actions as a man. Would you get praise and thanks? Can you think of how sad this conversation would be for your child to ask you twenty years later, “dad, when I was a small child and made mistakes, why did you abuse your power over me?”
Spanking your child does not give you respect or love. Being a father is more than a word. It is taking action. Making sure your efforts are developing life and not destroying it. You can easily pass down the wounds you endured during childhood and continue the cycle of family trauma, or you can start setting the example of how to overcome negativity and destructive practices.
Instead of spanking and punishing, you can take the time to explain things. You stop making excuses like your child doesn’t have the capability to understand your demands. They are just different from other kids, are too young to reason with, or are just bad kids. When you take the time to examine these things and be honest with yourself, you will realize these are not true leaders’ actions.
In all areas of your life, you need standards and principles. These should not change when it comes to being a father. You teach your child how to treat you by how you treat them. Once I started to make changes within myself, it had profound effects on my kids. I thought more about the people they would become and less about who I wanted them to be. I thought more about how I can influence them in a positive way.
Your children are always listening and watching.
When you start to understand the capacity of the power in fatherhood, you can conduct yourself with confidence. You take responsibility for your actions and continually push past negative experiences you may face in your home to eventually create a more peaceful environment. These are the lessons you want to teach your child. When things get tough, you don’t give up. You don’t lessen your value as a reliable and trusting man in times when those who need your support the most.
This is the time you show what you are made of. There is no pretending. You don’t stick your chest out and look them in the eyes. Your kids need connection and integrity. You are forging a bond, and at a young age, your children are creating their internal compass to help navigate them later in life, be honest with them about who you are. How you display your energy to the world will influence them to be confident, and how you treat them in the home will determine their self-acceptance.
Your kids not only need that support; they are starving for it. We see statistics of how important a father is in the home, but what about a father who works on himself, trains his body and mind—a man who is present and capable of solving complexities in the home through hours of training. You do the work most men choose not to endure and go through the pain to become a better father.
Being a father for twenty-three years, I know it is not easy, and it takes years to understand how vital this role really is. Sometimes it may feel like its too late, and you have lost all control. This doesn’t mean you resort to parenting methods that only fulfill your needs and ignore your child’s needs. This is not teaching your child about the values of a healthy relationship.
Imagine being in a relationship with a woman, and thought you needed them to feel whole. You feel incomplete if they do not express the love you need. It is not your partner’s job to save you in unhealthy relationships. They likely are struggling with their own pain and trauma. It was your parent’s job, and now as a father is your job.
Many men get stuck in dysfunctional relationships with women because of how they were parented. You create conditions of codependency and negative attachment. You are conditioned to seek approval from others because you were never allowed to express your true self. You will hide everything about who you are to please your wife. This is something lost during childhood, and to go through this battle later on in life as a man is painful and disturbing.
If we don’t start to think about how our impact shapes and molds the future person our child will become, we fail to recognize how our childhood has effected us.
Creating a needy child is simple. You take love away when your needs aren’t met, or you set standards that they can never attain and don’t have the capacity to understand. Even though we say we want our child to be strong and independent, this is not what we are modeling with how we treat them.
So what is the purpose of changing who we are?
Why should you put in the work to become a better father?
Do you ever ask what type of life you want your child to have?
These questions can be difficult to answer if there are no fundamental principles you adhere to in your own life. When there is no solid foundation, then weakness becomes the common path.
Do you ever ask yourself, what type of father you want to be?
Do you genuinely want to improve your relationship with your kids?
What is stopping you?
Even if you never had the opportunity to experience this in your childhood, you are now a man and must take control of your life and the choice you make.
Fatherhood is one aspect of a man’s life that is ignored and overlooked because it is difficult to find out if you’re on the right path. Most of your input is from other fathers who are just going through the motions and have never learned or read anything about parenting. Real change will come when you get feedback from the very person you are parenting, which at the moment can be painful but will bring you more connected with your child.
When your actions do not represent who you are as a man, you will avoid the visible damages you are inflicting on your child and fail to question your motives. This one element of yourself concludes that you are no longer in the realm of protecting your child and become self-centered to cover your own needs.
You see this dysfunction in many different ways as you navigate around problems in your home. Whether you get angry at a cup of spilled water or frustrated about a broken curfew, your attitude towards relatively simple problems overwhelms you with fear and frustration. Never do you consider what your child is going through. Everything becomes about you. This is no way to live and not a good example of how men handle problems.
I improved how I interacted with my children by learning to listen. If I were incapable of listening to myself, I would never be able to listen to my children. If I wasn’t true to who I am, my thoughts, creativity, values, and soul, how could I be capable of listening to my kids?
You show support and feed goodness to your children to encourage their growth to become who they truly are. Through listening, you learn to accept them fully and not just accept parts of them that fit into your narrative. They can be genuine and no longer need to run from you and run from who they honestly are. In the future, instead of avoiding you, they will be comfortable in your company.
If you want your child to feel whole and real in a lost and empty world, you must accept what is going on inside of you and work past those feelings. There is a big difference between avoiding feelings and trying to find what are the right feelings. It is perfectly normal to feel scared or weak. It does not define who you are. The same philosophy is true with failure.
You want your child to be comfortable with who they are and who they will become. You don’t want them to seek external validation from the crowd or become a mindless drone just to fit in.
So how do you model behaviors that your child will follow?
You do the work on yourself.
If you practice self-acceptance, you will create a child who does the same. You become a man with standards, and you hold to them no matter what. You stop running away from who you really are.
You don’t’ have to be unhappy as a dad. You must raise your standards and have the courage to make this real. You look to obtain growth every day, no matter the outcome. Some days you will get massive results, but most days, the progress is small.
You don’t give up. These steps will take years for you to figure out.
“There is only one way to eat an elephant, a bite at a time.”
You always hear how they grow up so fast from small children to adults, which I think is a mindset related to regrets. I never tried to look back at what I missed or what I might have done wrong. I stayed focused on what was important now and how I can lead them into adulthood. I am proud of the people they are becoming, and I can not wait for them to share more of their lives with me.
There are so many kids growing up right now without a father. If you have this chance, don’t waste it. See it as a challenge and an honor to pass down your legacy.