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5 Ways to Be a Better Dad

Updated: Feb 21

father playing with daughter

Do you ever stop to think, ‘I could be better.’ I do it all the time. In fact, I find myself thinking this so much I start second guessing everything I do. It’s so easy to get caught up in the pressures of life as a Dad: working, time with kids, providing for your family, chores, your own goals/dreams, finances, etc.. If you’re like me, the pressure of juggling all these tasks feels like you're just barely able to keep your head above water.

So, how can you make it easier? Since outside pressures are rarely ever going to go away, you have to then decide to grow internally. Here are five things I do to work on myself so that I can be the Dad I need to be to my daughter and son:

a man with crossed hands over the Bible

1 . Pray

If this first thing hasn’t scared you away, I invite you to start praying more. Even if you don’t believe in God, praying has worked miracles in my own life and I believe in it so much I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t put praying on this list.

Praying is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal. Yes, there are caveats. God will not give you what you ask for if it will lead to sin in any way. But, assuming it is God's Will for you, he will still rarely give you what you ask for. He likes to give you opportunities to achieve what you ask for, instead.

I have seen this first hand with my 10 month old son who has Down Syndrome. I cannot stress enough how powerful prayer can be if done with a sincere heart.


2. Take cold showers

If true love is sacrificial, then how can you grow in love? Make more sacrifices in your life. No, I don’t mean to sacrifice an animal. Challenge yourself by making your life just a little harder than it already is, that way you will grow in sacrificial love for your son or daughter over time.

One of my favorite ways (not really) to do this is by taking cold showers. I LOVE (hate) cold showers. The discipline needed to stay in that freezing cold shower when it first hits your skin is incredible.

I only stay in for 3 minutes, but those 3 minutes are filled with what seems like a lifetime of reasoning why I should turn the shower head to warm, or just jump out all together and dry off as quickly as possible.

What helps me through it all is thinking of why I am challenging myself, for my wife and kids. I keep thinking ‘If I can do this then I can have more patience when my toddler is screaming’, or ‘bedtime routine is nothing compared to the arctic water spewing from my shower head’. Cold showers are a great tool to utilize if you want to grow in sacrificial love.

workout equipment

3. Workout

Working out has tons of benefits! Not only do you constantly challenge yourself, get healthier, and look better, you also gain more energy! Why is this important? More energy allows you to play with your kids as soon as you get home from work (or get off the clock if you work from home).

I love seeing my two-year-old daughter running to me when I get home and the first thing she wants to do is have a tea party with her magical teapot that luminates different color tea when she pours it. She doesn’t care how my day was, and she doesn’t know how long I was gone at work.

She just knows I’m home and she wants to spend time with me. Working out has allowed me to immediately drop my bags, keys, and coffee mug, give her a big hug, and then spend the next hour sipping the greatest tea out any toddler can make. 10 sugars? Yes, please!

All I do to workout is 20 minutes of jogging, 20 minutes of lifting, and 10 minutes of stretching. The best part is I run while pushing my daughter in a stroller, and she stretches with me (sometimes). So not only am I spending time with her, I am also doing something I love to do!

a library book shelf with books

4. Read

Reading is great to do if you want to be a better Dad. If knowledge is power then you can be Superman in less than a year! Reading a book a month can change your life if done intentionally.

Whether you want to learn more about the psychology of a toddler, teen, etc., or you want to grow in knowledge on a subject you’re interested in, reading can help you gain more knowledge so you know how to handle certain situations with your kids. It can also help you learn how to communicate with your son/daughter more effectively.

a father reading to his baby

5. Read to your kids

Reading to your kids can be just as fun for you as it can be for them. Use different voices, silly voices, growling voices, high-pitched voices. Whether your kids is 2 years old, or 15 years old, they’ll see a side of you that they may not have seen before. They’ll also grow to love spending time with you.

Go shopping for books together and, when you have gathered enough books to have a library in your house, you will discover how exciting it is to go book hunting! Discovering the perfect book after weeks and weeks of looking at Half Price Books is exhilarating!

a father holding his daughter

Making it a habit

The most important thing to remember when starting something new is why you’re starting. The next important thing is to allow yourself time to make it a habit. Whether it’s something on this list, or something else altogether, it can be challenging at first, but give it time and it will become part of your daily routine.

Ultimately, if you want to be a better Dad that requires some sort of sacrifice on your part. So, in that sense, applaud yourself for making a sacrifice. That sacrifice is something your kids will be thankful for (without realizing it) in 20 years when they remember how you were present to them when they were young.


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