A new year always leads to self-reflection. We evaluate our successes and failures from the previous year and make plans to do better. As dads, we know that our kids deserve our best at all times, but we sometimes fall short of that mark. However, we can take steps to be better fathers. A new year gives us a clean slate. The following 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Dads will help you to be the best father you can be in 2015.
Be more patient
I asked a group of fathers to name one thing they wanted to do in 2015 to be better fathers. The number one answer was “Be more patient.” While patience is a virtue, children have a way of testing our patience. They don’t always follow instructions. They sometimes break things. And they have a bad habit of dragging out their bed times (Can you read one more book, please?). When your kids make you feel a bit impatient and frustrated, try taking a few big breaths. This simple exercise can relax your mind so you’re better able to interact with you child in a calm manner. This technique can also help when you’re stuck in traffic, dealing with an irritating coworker, or waiting on the cable guy to arrive (9am-12am is a big window). But the best way to learn patience is to learn to express gratitude. When your children are getting on your nerves, think about how much they’ve blessed your life. Your love and gratitude is more powerful than an obstinate toddler or a surly teenager. Think about the times they’ve made you smile and your frustration will start to melt away.
Be slow to anger
Sometimes our impatience can lead to anger if we’re not careful. While anger is a natural emotion, we must be careful not to lash out in anger towards our children. If we do, we could cause irreparable damage both physically and emotionally. When you find yourself getting angry, take a step back, count to ten, and try to assess the situation rationally.
Be more affectionate
Kids need hugs and kisses from their dads. Shower your children with affection. Even teenagers want an occasional hug from their fathers. Also, tell them how much you love them. Your words will give them comfort and make them feel more secure and confident.
Be more engaged
I have a bad habit of reaching for my cell phone when I’m spending time with my kids. I know that I shouldn’t do it, but I feel compelled to respond to each little alert. Simply being in the same room with your kids isn’t enough. You must be fully present and engaged. To do that, you may have to place your phone in another room, turn off the TV, or step away from your laptop. Our children deserve our FULL attention. Listen to their concerns. Share advice. Live in the moment. Kids grow up so fast and we need to enjoy spending time with them while we can.
Many dads neglect their health. It’s not that they don’t care about themselves, but their busy schedules prevent them from doing the things they need to do to be healthy. Make a commitment to schedule regular doctor visits, eat better, and make time to exercise. This investment in yourself is worth it. Besides, your family needs you to be in your best shape possible.
Be connected to other dads
I’ve learned that I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I need help and advice from other dads who may have experienced a similar problem. Find a network of dads that you trust and encourage one another to be better fathers, husbands, and community members.
Be a role model
Your kids look to you for direction and instruction. That’s why it’s so important for dads to model appropriate behavior. Your words must be consistent with your actions. If they are not, your children will be confused. Children are always watching us. They mimic our actions. Teach your children about kindness, serving others, honesty, hard work, loyalty, and perseverance by exhibiting these traits (or others that you believe are important). When you are consistent in your behavior, your children will follow your lead.