Like every preacher, parent and opinionated child, I love to tell people what to do. I’m bursting with advice, mainly because I don’t always fight the impulse to think too highly of myself. I’ve written advice books, for crying out loud.
But sometimes the best advice comes from those who don’t always have a platform for sharing it – from people who’ve come by their wisdom the most honest way possible: They’ve lived it.
So in anticipation of Father’s Day, I asked some of my readers to share the one piece of advice, based on their own upbringing or their current parenting experience, that every father should hear and try to follow. Here are a few of their answers:
Be honest and let your “yes mean yes and your no mean no.” Plus, start telling your kids as soon as it is appropriate: “Keep your pants on.” (Jay, Florida)
Fight to make time with your children. If you have a son, wrestle with him. If you have a daughter, go on dates with her. (Charlie, Maryland)
Your kids are always watching you. Do what you say you’ll do. They will learn more from your actions than from your words. (David, Georgia)
Show your children by your actions how to treat others with respect, especially their mother. Treat their mother with respect and show them how much you love her. (Tess, Texas)
Spend time with your kids, but not just “quality time.” That’s a cop-out. Any time spent with kids is quality time, but kids need more than just enough to call it “quality time.” (Bill, Texas)
Kids value time differently than adults. For them, it is quantity over quality. Look for every opportunity to spend time with your children. Whether it is checking the mail or going to get the car washed, invite them along. (Kevin, Texas)
Be involved with your kids beyond just playtime and punishment. Read to them, bathe them when they’re young, etc. (Cara, New York)
Be an authority figure when rearing children, but don’t hold on to that power status for too long. It’s hard to build a comfortable and meaningful father-son relationship, with trust and reassurance, when fear and guilt stand in the way. (Clint, Texas)
Let your kids unfold and explore and be curious in the way they want to. (Ann, New Jersey)
Be wholly, completely, totally the person you were made to be. Do this and you will set an example for everyone to follow, especially your children. (Ken, Delaware)
Be there for your kids. Be their earthly rock and their representation of love and caring. (David, Pennsylvania)
Respect your children; you are no more human than they are. (David, Indiana)
My dad never played sports, but when my brother and I did, he spent lots of time with us working on free-throws or post moves. Be there for your kids and be interested in what they are interested in. (Tiffany, New Mexico)
Be involved in your children’s lives beyond just being a disciplinarian. But establish guidelines because you have a life that should not revolve around your children. (Anne, Ohio)
Most of all, kids just want our time and sometimes this means laying aside your agenda and doing what they want. They want to know that we care, that we’re willing to sacrifice so we can just be there. (Chad, Arizona)
Love your son or daughter no matter what, no matter how they turn out, no matter what their personality or if they are totally opposite of what you wanted. No matter what path they choose, love your child, and let them know how much you do love them. (Christopher, Louisiana)
Personally, I struggle to find a balance between pursuing my own “agenda” and being sacrificially present, active and involved in my kids’ lives. I worry about how I’m managing the limited amount of time I have available.
But then I think back to my own childhood. If there were seasons when my dad seemed too busy to play with us, I don’t remember them. I do, however, remember all the times he came barreling onto the trampoline to bounce us around. I remember the backyard slam-dunk contests, the camping trips and the games of catch with baseballs and footballs and Frisbees. I remember those well.
I’m challenged by the wisdom here and hope you are, too. Happy Father’s Day.
by Jason Boyett
Jason is an Amarillo native and the author of several books, including O Me of Little Faith and the Pocket Guide series. He blogs at jasonboyett.com.