Use the Element of Surprise to Be a Good Dad


How can you surprise your child in a way that encourages him and lets him know that Dad is on his side?

When I feel convicted about needing to step up my game as a husband and father, I often think about the element of surprise.

It’s a simple concept, but I believe it’s an important part of showing my family members how special they are to me. I try to think of ways I can surprise them with good things.

The “good things” is an important part of this. These are not the “uh-oh” or “oh no” kinds of surprises; these are the “Ah-ha!” and “Wow!” and “Cool!” surprises. Think of them as day-brighteners that say, “I am thinking of you.” They can be gifts, but they don’t have to be—and they shouldn’t always be.

Want examples? Here’s a good list that can serve as today's Action Points:

  • Show up to support your child at a time and place like you haven’t done before.
  • Ask questions and show interest in things you haven’t bothered with in the past.
  • Anticipate your child’s needs, and be ready with a secret stash of poster boards, flash cards for the upcoming SAT, or a cold Gatorade at just the right time.
  • Give your first grader a new box of crayons.
  • Get down on your child’s level and really invest yourself in something he or she enjoys, like building blocks, crafts, video games, dolls, etc.
  • Show up at your child’s school as a WatchDOG dad.
  • Fill your teenager’s gas tank.
  • Give a book on a topic he or she is interested in.
  • Write a note of encouragement, or just to let him know that his dad is on his side.
  • Give an invitation for an afternoon of one-on-one fun—and let your child define what is fun. It might be a round of golf. Or shopping. A game of racquetball. Spend an hour at a shooting range. Attend a ballgame, concert or auto show.
  • Offer to take their turn doing the dishes or some other chore. Maybe surprise them with cocoa, lemonade or fresh popcorn during a study break.

What can you text to your daughter that would bring a smile to her face? What 99-cent gift could you bring home that would make your son feel special? You can probably apply this in ways I haven’t thought of, and I hope you’ll do that  … and I hope you’ll share your ideas with other dads.

You’ll have to be thoughtful and creative here, which probably means it will take a little bit of time. But it’s worth it! Just ask, How can I surprise my child in a way that encourages him and lets him know that his dad is on his side?

Maybe your family members will be surprised because you haven’t been doing all you can as a father, and they’ll wonder about the real motives behind your actions. That’s okay. Just smile and keep moving.

The idea is to keep surprising your family members with good things until they are no longer surprised. They’ll come to expect encouraging actions, words and blessings from you. (I guess then you’ll need to come up with new ways to surprise them.) But I wouldn’t be surprised at all, dad, if you were up to that challenge.

Written by Carey Casey

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