This time of year, we get to interview dozens of dads in several parts of the country for our Father of the Year contests. I’m always encouraged to see how many guys really get it when it comes to their fathering.
One of those dads is named Brian, and I want to pass along what he communicated about what makes a big impact on his children. He wrote,
“Kids observe everything! [And that’s] the greatest revelation of being a parent—how much they observe.”
“[This is something] that we as parents sometimes overlook or underestimate. When we parents do good things for others, the kids understand. When we parents are not kind or understanding of each other or we interact poorly with other people, our children observe and know [that], as well.”
It’s well said, and it makes me think I need to renew my commitment to be a reliable example for my children and grandchildren. I talk about modeling all the time, but it’s easy to forget how powerful it really is.
Here’s what I wrote about this in my book, Championship Fathering:
Modeling starts early. Kids are watching and taking cues from us even before they can tell us what they see. We can’t live in their place or make their choices for them, but what we do and say in front of them can shape their lives.
… We’re modeling every day. The issue you and I have to resolve is, “What kind of model will I be?”
So the goal today is for all of us to let that statement from Brian really sink in: “Kids observe everything!”
Kids. Observe. Everything!
Do you live your life every day with the awareness that they are watching what you do, hearing what you say, and learning a lot from it?
They’re picking up on things, whether it’s the snatch of a word or your tone of voice or the mood in the household. How you use your time. How you talk to your bride and how you talk about the salesman at the front door. They’re learning from what they see you do first every morning.
They’re always getting impressions of the world, whether they realize it or not. And it’s likely their actions will follow in significant ways.
Of course, our goal is to use the power of modeling to our children’s advantage. But like Brian pointed out, the first step is to understand that you are an example of how to live, and there’s a lot of power in that role.
Let’s all do our best, dad.
When have you been startled at the power of modeling with your kids? Share your stories or thoughts either below or on our Facebook page.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
- Dad, be intentional about the example you set. Don’t just let life happen; have a purpose and do things that demonstrate character and virtues. You’ll be doing your kids a favor in ways you might not even realize today.
- Also be a model of good health habits for your kids. Consider any lifestyle changes your family may need to make, and discuss how to best implement them.
- Keep your poise and do what’s right even when you’re apart from your kids. It still impacts them in a positive way.
- Take a hard look at your checkbook and your phone calendar. Do your spending and your schedule reflect the priorities and values you want your children to learn from you?
- Find a meaningful way to serve each of your children. Demonstrate that a leader is also a servant.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. We encourage you to help us change the culture of fathering in America by joining the Championship Fathering Team. You can also sign up for Carey’s weekly email tips by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.