Ways to Stay Positive Through Discouragement
A lot of dads out there feel like they are “drowning.” They’re stressed out, feeling alone, overloaded in many ways, and struggling as a dad. We are convinced that, here at NCF, we are in position to help a lot of those guys, and that’s a great reason to support our work.
But today I want to offer a word for anyone who may feel discouraged in his fathering.
When I played football, there were stages of growth and development—from pee wee leagues through high school and eventually college. At various points in that process, coaches would challenge me to learn a new skill or step up my game. And although I loved football, sometimes I really got discouraged. Nothing seemed to work right or pay off with success. Sometimes I’d ask myself, “Is this really even worth it?”
But as I kept with it and put in the reps during practice, things gradually turned around. Eventually those new skills became second nature, and soon I was coming out of my funk and performing much better, and that translated into success come game time.
There’s a parallel here to fatherhood. If you’re like me, you love being a dad. It speaks to something deep within you. But sometimes it gets hard, and you get discouraged. Nothing seems to work with your kids, and the payoffs are few and far between.
Maybe in your worst moments you’ve asked those same questions: “What’s the point?” “Is it worth the trouble?”
In my early years of being a dad, I was going to school, then I was working on trucking docks to provide for my family. That was not the kind of work I felt called to do, and there were many long days. For sure, I was asking those questions. And in the years since then, there have been some hard things I have had to work through as a husband and father.
Now, I’m sure my challenges aren’t much compared to what some dads are going through. I know I’ve been blessed, and I try to remember that every day.
Maybe some of you are crippled by past mistakes, or by your father’s faults. Maybe you’re fighting an addiction that slows you down as a father. Maybe you’re in that stage where it seems like all you do is work to provide for your family. Maybe you’re in a complex family situation and there’s no road-map for how to manage everything. Or maybe you don’t get to see your children much at all. There’s a growing list of tough issues that today’s dads face.
Fathering is just plain hard. And none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes and sometimes struggle in major ways.
My advice for all of us in those situations is the same as what I went through in football: Hang in there. Put in the reps. Dive in and be a dad—in whatever ways you can right now. Stay devoted to your kids. Think about the good you’re doing them instead of how it feels day-to-day on your end.
I really believe that, as we stay faithful, being a dad will become more rewarding, even if it takes months or years. And more importantly, our kids will benefit from our steadfast commitment and love.
What thought or frame of mind has helped you overcome challenging issues?
- Check your attitude about struggles in your fathering. All dads go through them to some degree; they’re really just part of the journey. And with the right approach, hard things can actually become opportunities to grow closer with your family members.
- Gather with other dads regularly to support each other in your fathering. Maybe start by contacting a few dads you know to give them some words of encouragement. Or get together and just be a listening ear.
Written by Carey Casey