Fatherhood: Life’s Leadership Opportunity
Fatherhood can be a difficult journey for most but the amazing part is you really have immediate feedback from both your children and rest of the world that loves to give their opinion of your children. I am a father to an 8 year old daughter and most recently my newborn son. Getting to experience a new child with my daughter and wife has been such a great experience in the past month and cannot wait for what the future holds. While I am no expert on fatherhood, I do believe that you only get better with time as you pick up the skills to mold wonderful humans. This article was spawned out of the best discussions that I have had with my wife and how we want to raise our children.
Starting with my own bias, my daughter has turned out exactly how she should be. Still a very experience-oriented girl with enough spunk and spontaneous tendency to teach me a thing or two. There is not a moment that goes by that I am not in awe of her ability to experience life. When she was younger I read a blog post about the experience minded children that may not listen to every word you say or move as fast as you would like them to — this was exactly my daughter. She has taught me more about slowing down and experiencing life than I can describe in one article here on Medium. Through all of this and my own personal growth, I have created a few key rules or recommendations for Leading the Family:
1. Family is First. Period. No movement on this point
Having a clear understanding that you as the father can have one of largest impacts on your family should be a reminder that they come first. I have read numerous books where this is a common theme and I truly believe putting your family first has a tremendous impact on your life and success. The motivation and drive is rooted in your family and what you want to accomplish for them. Being a father there has been no greater instigator than the burning desire to make a better life for my children.
Family creates a higher calling. You are no longer concerned with only your well-being but you are responsible for your family. Being the patriarch of the family comes great responsibility. Whether it is the on-going development of your children or the demonstration of the devotion to your wife, leading your family is done through action and words. For me, this has taken time to improve with and a continual focus has allowed for my own progression. This leads me to my next rule of fatherhood.
2. Fatherhood is the ultimate Leadership Role
Being the leader of the family is the most difficult leadership role you will ever take on. While being a father happens to any man than has kids being the leader of the family is something that takes time to perfect. Speaking from personal experience, this may be one of the biggest areas of where I can improve with my own children. While I have a great relationship with my daughter there are times when I am challenged by her actions and do not always rise to the occasion of leading her as her father but more of a friend. I have been blessed by my wife to point out this opportunity of mine and have helped me to work towards becoming a greater father figure to my daughter. At the same time my daughter still sees me as her authority figure but I do feel that there is not the same leadership with her as I would like.
With all that being stated, the importance of leading your family as the father can have the utmost importance on your life. Leading does not mean that there is no flexibility for your children but rather a mutual respect that children understand the boundaries and what you stand for. At this point my daughter knows her boundaries (she just likes to push them at times) and my own aspirations for her. Reaffirming these key points with her from time to time is something I have found important for her to understand who is leading her through life. Setting our children up for success does not just come in the knowledge they learn from school but how we as parents foster that knowledge to help them apply that knowledge. That is how you lead your children, being involved in their activities so they know you have interest in all that they do.
3. Give your ATTENTION to your family
With our attention being pulled in 100 different directions fathers need to set the expectation that their attention is on their family. This has many different applications depending on your own style, but attention is the greatest commodity we can provide to our family. This could as simple as spending the first hour of your day one-on-one with your children or ensuring that you are home for putting the kids to sleep on a nightly basis or even staying up late for that extra hour with your wife to advance your relationship. All of these are examples of you giving your attention to your family so they know you care and have a true desire to be in their presence.
Applying this in my own life has paid dividends for my personal relationships with both my daughter and my wife. Taking the time out of the day to be with them and show the interest in them is not something I always received growing up in a family where we only had a few hours a day together, which most was spent watching TV. While my own parents taught me many things about being a loving parent one thing that I know I had to change was the quality time we spent together. Maybe my own perception is off base of my own parents but I do have a passion for ensuring that my family knows me just as well as I know them. Creating a deep relationship with my family is what will enable my own leadership.
Thinking about thes three rules or recommendations that are laid out here, there is a common application in both personal and professional circumstances. Developing your leadership ability and tendency at home can provide tremendous value in your professional aspirations. As mentioned, the desire for success can be routed in your family but just as important the way you lead your family can be applied to the process you take to lead your co-workers or your team. There can be no better way to grow in raw leadership than with your family who will push and pull you in so many ways that when it comes to work, you will be able to be an effective leader. In so many ways, we are told that seperating personal and professional lives is important but in today’s world there is no seperation. You have one profile in life, be great at what you do.
To finish, these are by my own accord recommendations that I have found to work and make me a better father. I am by no means the “World’s Greatest Dad” but I do know that I am active in my family’s life. There is no greater feeling than when your children are truly excited to spend time with you. So I will leave you with this, leave all the distractions at the door and embrace the experience with your family, you never know what amazing moment is coming next.