The Construction of a Great Dad
- Friday, March 09, 2012
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Todd Cartmell's recent book, Project Dad: The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide for Becoming a Great Father, (Revell Books, 2011).
As a man, you may love to build things – from a new gadget for your house, to a new fence for your yard. You might even be so handy at building that you can repair your car’s engine yourself or make a toy for your kids by hand. Or, you may be one of those men who’s more likely to call a technician that tackle a do-it-yourself building project.
No matter what level of building skills you have, however, there’s one building project that you can’t afford to ignore: building yourself into a great father. God, your Father in heaven, stands ready to help you every step of the way if you’ll commit to the project – and you and your kids will love the results.
Here’s how you can be built into a great father:
Ask God to shape you into the man He wants you to become. Honestly and humbly confess your sins and shortcomings to God and ask Him to forgive and change you. Invite God to do whatever work is necessary in your life to help you become a better person and father. Commit to following whatever instructions God gives you for the project.
Build the right eyes. Look at your kids from the right perspective – the way God looks at them – to help them become the people God made to them to be. Ask God to show you the unique ways that He has made of your kids special. Keep in mind that God has placed many treasures inside your kids that He wants you to discover and affirm in them. Pay attention to the details of your children’s lives as they grow and change; doing so will make them feel valuable and loved. Encourage your kids to discover, develop, and use the gifts and talents that God has given them. Look past your children’s mistakes and help them turn those mistakes into great learning experiences. Remember that your time with your children is limited, so make the most of every opportunity you have each day to positively impact their lives. Use mealtimes, bedtimes, travel times, and time together in the mornings before work and school to engage in fun and meaningful discussions and pray together.
Build the right mouth. Talk to your kids in ways that will nurture them and help them think correctly about themselves. Discuss both little topics (the details of your children’s daily lives) and big topics (values that relate to God, family, friends, work, and issues they face, such as bullying, dating, and alcohol). Ask God to help you develop a warm communication style when talking with your kids, listening carefully to them and encouraging them when you speak. Avoid communication styles that can damage your relationships with your kids, such as yelling at them, putting them down, and teasing them inappropriately. Whenever you want to discuss a serious issue with your children, choose the right time and place so you can all relax and focus best. Choose to communicate positive words to your kids as often as possible. Encourage your children to choose positive attitudes and actions by letting them you notice their good choices and praising them for what they’re doing right rather than complaining about what they’re doing wrong.
Build the right heart. Connect with your kids to build strong, lasting relationships with them. Spend as much time with your children as possible, sacrificing other activities to be with them regularly. Build bonds with your kids by using loving body language when you’re with them, such as hugging them and looking into their eyes when they’re speaking so they know that you really care about what they have to say. Decide to treat each of your children with respect in every situation, no matter what. Listen to your kids first and speak second, and do your best to fully understand the thoughts and feelings they express to you. Build a loving family culture by praying for each other regularly, enjoying fun activities together often, and honestly discussing issues that are important to each of you in the household.
Build the right hands. Act in ways that will open your kids up to learn the lessons they need to learn from you and grow in wisdom. Coach your kids to respond to challenging situations in healthy ways and develop the skills they need to learn. Ask God to help you manage your anger well, so it won’t undermine all the positive ways you relate to your children and break your relationships with them. Teach your kids to use their creativity to think of possible solutions to the problems they encounter. Pray together with them about challenging situations, asking God to give them the wisdom they need to respond to each situation well. Ask God to give you the wisdom you need as a dad to discipline your children with the right consequences administered with love and respect, so your kids can learn the right lessons in the right ways.
Build the right feet. Lead your kids along the path that God has laid out for them and protect them from the dangers that evil has laid ahead of them. Ask God to help you be the best role model you can be for your kids, showing them how to live faithfully in all ways, including how to spend time and money, how to treat other people, and how to make a relationship with God life’s top priority. Guide your kids to choose close friends who share their same values, and urge them to encourage each other to remain true to those values and keep developing a stronger faith. But also urge your kids to reach out to positively impact kids outside their inner circle who don’t yet share their values but need loving friends to help them grow closer to God. Set appropriate boundaries to protect your kids from spending too much time on entertainment and neglecting more important activities, and from consuming media content that may harm them (such as sex and violence). But rather than trying to shelter your kids from media, teach them to think critically about media, so they can learn a critical skill for adulthood: how to discern whether or not the media’s messages reflect biblical truth.
Adapted from Project Dad: The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide for Becoming a Great Father, copyright 2011 by Todd Cartmell. Published by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.
Todd Cartmell is a licensed clinical psychologist and a father of two. He is in full-time private practice in Wheaton, Illinois, where he works exclusively with children, adolescents, and families. He conducts parenting workshops across the country and is the author of Respectful Kids. You can visit Todd's website at www.drtodd.net.
Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor. You can visit her website at: http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/.
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