Make a commitment to give more of yourself to your family. What adjustments do you need to make, dad? In what fathering areas do you need to improve?
Cameron Stracher is a busy working dad. He's a law professor in New York who also does legal work, with a long commute to and from work every day. Several years ago, he found himself feeling "over-extended, over-committed and physically exhausted," and very out-of-touch with his family.
Then one day, he decided he’d had enough, and he committed himself to a life change. He didn’t find a new job, but he did promise his family that, for the entire school year, he’d be home for dinner five nights a week, and about half those nights, he'd cook dinner.
He has kept that promise—and written a book about it. He has found that there are good days and bad days, good dinners and bad dinners. One afternoon, after shuttling his two children from event to event and finally arriving home, his daughter asks: "Daddy, what are we having for dinner?" He notes: "I have traveled from the father who was never home for dinner to the father without whom dinner is unimaginable. In my daughter's mind, I am not only present for dinner, I am an essential ingredient."
Cameron did one admirable thing that most of us can do in one way or another: he made a commitment to give more of himself to his family. At a time when many people around us are making casual resolutions about how they would like to look, act and be different in the coming year, we would all benefit from taking a sober look at where we are with our families and then committing ourselves to new and better habits and ways of life.
What adjustments do you need to make, dad? Maybe you need to look at your long hours and start being more intentional about scheduling time with your family. Maybe you need to develop more patience or emotional stability, so you’re a better model for your kids. Does your children's mother have some needs that remain unmet?
This isn’t just a rhetorical exercise. This is about you sitting down to create a plan of action. If you’re serious about becoming a better dad, you need to give this the time and attention it deserves.
- Get your family calendar and, as a family, figure out how you can eat dinner together at least one more day each week. Offer to cook that meal.
- Spend time thinking about how your children have grown and changed in the last twelve months. What issues are they dealing with now, and what challenges will each of them face during the next year?
- In what fathering areas do you need to improve?
- Ask your children, “What bad habits do I need to work on this year?”