Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Two Ways Dads Can Help Their Children Succeed

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2014 May 14


How to define it?

To many Americans, success means challenging yourself to reach your full potential. It can mean financial stability and the ability to provide for a family. To many in the world, it means reaching a certain level of self-fulfillment.

And while there are various ways the above goals can be reached, the fact is that a college diploma remains an important common denominator of the American definition of success in many cases.

As marriage expert Brad Wilcox explains, “The Pew Research Center finds that, among Millennials, college graduates earn about $17,500 a year more than their peers with only a high-school diploma. One Brookings study found that, over a lifetime, a college degree provides an income premium of about $570,000.”

Dads improve the likelihood of their children’s future success

Wilcox’s newest report, “Dad and the diploma: The difference fathers make for college graduation,” found that “teenagers with involved or highly involved dads are 98 percent more likely to graduate from college than teens who report their dads are not involved in their lives.”

That’s an astronomical impact!

Wilcox goes on to explain the reasons why involved fathers make such a difference in the lives and future success of their children – I’ll explore two in this post. But all the reasons are rooted in the fact that moms and dads parent their children differently.

That means a father’s contributions to his children are special and unique.


Dads help prepare their sons and daughters for college by challenging them and encouraging them to take risks. For example, there’s a woman on staff at Focus who has shared how her father’s encouragement went a long way in her decision to attend a prestigious graduate program. While her mom voiced a more conservative view, her dad nudged her forward, giving this woman the confidence she needed to take the plunge. She graduated the accelerated master’s program near the top of her class.

Conversely, fathers also protect their kids from needless risks that might derail their future success. Study after study confirms how children who grow up with their married parents are less likely to live in poverty, get in trouble with the law, drink or do drugs, or be victims of sexual or physical violence. Daughters who grow up with involved dads are also less likely to experience a teenage pregnancy.

Being that involved dad

Many of us dads will read this and earnestly desire to be that involved father – but we ourselves were raised by a single mom or without a consistent father figure.

I get you. That’s my story.

I went into fatherhood without a roadmap because all my father figures – my biological dad, stepdad and foster dad – had left the picture by the time I was 13.

Yet I’m here to encourage you. There’s hope. In most instances, it’s not too late to try to become a better, more involved father. There are ways you can overcome your dad-shaped hole and be the father your children deserve.

The knowledge that there are countless other men like me drove me to write my latest book, “The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be.” Through this book, I share what God has taught me on my journey as a dad so I can hopefully help inspire and equip other dads to put in the effort to be there for their kids, love their children better and get more involved with their lives.

After all, your presence in your children’s lives matters. Fatherhood is worth the hard work.

You can still catch “Irreplaceable” during its nationwide encore presentation on Thursday, May 15!


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