8. Growing as a Father

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Here is a small sample from the latest newsletter…..

16th April 2012 Inspiring Fathers Encouraging Families Issue 504

Recently a young man approached me to see if I would mentor him and his wife on how to raise a great family. I have known this man and his wife for about ten years. He is a successful businessman who is also active in his local church.

In my estimation he is a great father and a devoted husband. As a matter of fact I would give him 9 out of 10, on both counts, as a husband and father.

I expressed my surprise to my wife Alison that, in my estimation, he does not need mentoring. She quickly pointed out that we all need mentoring.

We invited this couple across to share dinner with us one night during the week. We had a good discussion in which they expressed their admiration for our family and we in turn endeavoured to outline some family insights that have worked for us.

Recently this couple had seen our four sons play music at the Sydney Easter Parade in their band ‘CarryOn‘. They have observed our family and the way we all interact and love one another. They decided they would like to see this type of relationship develop in the future in their own family. As a close and loving family, whose children have not yet reached their teens, we had a lot to talk about.

Indeed we all need mentoring and the good can only get better with wise advice and, more importantly, a living example. As the greatest man who ever walked the planet said, “But wisdom is shown to be right by those who accept it“.

Our friends are happy for us to share some of our insights, that we talked about with them, with you. Here is my fatherly advice, from my own personal experiences: let’s call it the Eight Point Plan for young fathers.

1. The success of your children and your family has more to do with you as a father than anything else. As James Dobson from Focus on the Family said, “While I don’t minimise the vital role played by a mother, I believe a successful family begins with her husband”.

2. The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love his children’s mother passionately and extravagantly. The question had to be asked of my friend, “When did you last take your wife away for a romantic weekend?” He sheepishly replied, “Many years ago!” That is his first assignment and to do it ASAP; at least once a year and then work up to once a quarter. I even offered to look after his children, but he has some close friends who can help. The practicalities are important!

3. One of our friend’s children is close to puberty and the other only a few years behind, so I recommended reading up on Rites of Passage URGENTLY. Two practical books by Brian Molitor are ‘Boys Passage – Man’s Journey‘ and ‘Girl’s Passage – Father’s Duty’. Other great authors who have written on this subject include: Robert LewisRick JohnsonSteve Farrar and Jim McBride.

4. Take your child on a Fathering Adventure with Darren Lewis, Queensland’s ‘Father of the Year‘ in 2011. Darren has a passion to provide meaningful adventures for dads and their children based around the rites of passage model. There are very few things I would advocate going into debt for, but this would rank above a home. This sort of experience is usually something money can never buy. Folks fly in from all over the world to do Fathering Adventures with their children, but Darren is doing this in our own Australian backyard.

5. Begin a Family Dinner Night once a week and make it as fun filled as possible. Details can be found for this in Stephen Covey‘s book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families‘.

6. Begin the practice of ‘Daddy Dates’ with your children. Our friend is already doing this. Together as a family, or individually with each of your children begin to go out with your child, doing something that they want to do, and give them your undivided attention.

7. Discipline your children: It is important to set clearly defined boundaries for your children with consequences when those boundaries are overstepped. These need to be set with a great deal of love and care, always respecting the individual child and their dignity at the same time. It is better to start this process early, as it will pay off when they are older. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

8. Actively schedule in holidays, family outings, adventures, music and sporting activities with your children. Time with your children is precious. Enjoy it while you still have the opportunity.

If you can’t apply something from the above eight points to your family I had better give up now.

As the man said, “Just do it!”

Yours for some fatherly advice

Warwick Marsh