How to Be a Dad Through Life’s Ups and Downs


Our kids need stability even in turbulent times, and we fathers have the privilege of providing it for our greatest team—our family.

Change is a part of life for all of us, and in the coming year, your family will experience some large or small changes. Some of them are related to your career or an important relationship, but many of them happen simply because change is inevitable with kids. It’s part of being a parent.

There are first steps and the last day in diapers. Every year brings a first day of school with new teachers and a last day of school with an endless summer of opportunities ahead. Driver’s licenses, dating privileges, graduations, choosing a college, enlisting in the military, engagements, weddings, and babies, are all life-altering transitions. 

So how do you stay on top of the ongoing changes of family life, and carry yourself in a way that will leave a positive legacy for your children?

You probably can’t stay ahead of the changes completely, but transitions really shouldn't take us by surprise. As our kids grow and change, we need to be thinking ahead about what’s coming down the road, and prepare as best we can. Our kids need stability even in turbulent times, and a father has the privilege to give that to his greatest team, his family.

Being prepared can include talking with others, such as those dads who have walked the path ahead of you. Get their best insights. Proactively plan with your children’s mother and benefit from her experiences and perspective.

With your children, the best way to prepare them is to help them develop habits and skills that will serve them well when the changes do come. At the top of that list is communication.

Written by Carey Casey

Specifically, work to become a more sensitive listener. How are your children handling the changes, what are their concerns, and what do they need from you? Ask open-ended questions, and then listen and watch.

Also, explain why change is necessary sometimes, and you can even admit that change is sometimes beyond your control.

And then, of course, give them lots of affirmation through words and actions. Make sure they know—without a doubt—that though some things may change, your love for them and acceptance of them will not change.

The stresses of life can push family members apart, but with our sensitive leadership, uncertainties and challenges can draw our families closer and make them stronger.

More Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • During difficult transitions, help your children focus on something positive. Maybe plan a fun activity to help restore joy and a sense of continuity to the family.
  • Invest energy in helping someone else—a great way to take your family’s focus off of a current struggle or difficult adjustment.
  • Another positive, proactive step would be to volunteer as a WatchDOG at your kids’ school or a school in your neighborhood.
  • Allow each family member to talk through whatever they’re feeling through times of change.
  • Meet regularly with other dads in a small group. Through the ups and downs of life, they’ll keep you steady through encouragement, support, and accountability.

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