On a day we celebrate fatherhood, it's useful to remember the ways we men can and should be great.
1. A relevant dad is responsible.
To be able to be relied upon and trusted comes from a certain sense of consistency with your actions and responsibilities. At a certain age, kids form an opinion on your character and much of it based on your sense of responsibility. Be consistent and be aware that your actions are impacting your children in untold ways. Always set the best example you can for them. The greatest time to start doing this is now.
2. A relevant dad is supportive.
Every parent has ideas and thoughts about how life should be lived. However, a real man respects and loves his children to such a degree that he will support them on any journey they decide to take to find that happiness. He will nurture them to the best of his ability in the early years of their life and then be open and respectful enough to support their dreams as they grow into their teens and adulthood.
3. A relevant dad is honest.
Honest about his mistakes, feelings and his intentions. These are the things loved ones value and remember most. How did he treat me? Did he respect or disrespect me with his words? In a world where lies are told at the drop of a hat, a man that can be honest and forthcoming with his family is cherished and deeply respected. There's nothing to lose and everything to gain by adopting this policy. Truth is a powerful path to experiencing love and respect not only as a man or father, but as a human being as well. Lies are a poison to any relationship. Most importantly they are a poison to the relationship you have with yourself.
4. A relevant dad is loving, empathetic and compassionate.
Men can tend to live in a world of black and white. However, the fathers who can find the gray and give that precious space to their kids when the time is right have learned the true art of fatherhood. This doesn't mean throwing out all the rules, but learning the importance of empathy and using newfound grace to give it to your child when he or she needs it most. Most times you won't have a clue at what's going on. This is when your simple, loving, supportive silence will speak volumes. You will be revered, loved and appreciated for this effort of support more than you know.
5. A relevant dad is present.
Nothing says you really truly care about someone then when you're listening and giving your full attention to someone. This “presence” is vital to your kids in their early developing years. Whether you think that they do or not, kids know when you're paying attention to them. This makes a big difference as they build their self-esteem and critical identity at an early age. Put down the iPhone, stop texting when talking with your kids, and check your email later.
Being present as much as possible is a gift to your loved ones and creates a bond that will last for years. It's also the source of the respect kids will feel as they make some of the critical decisions of their life. The rewards of this presence and the respect you gain from it are impossible to measure!
Life isn't about what you did or didn’t do in your past. Who you were 10 years ago, six months ago, or five minutes ago is not who you have the opportunity to be now. It is all about seizing this precious moment of opportunity to demonstrate a new you and way of offering your love and relevancy as a man, father or husband. This is your greatest moment of opportunity for change. To the one who understands this, nothing is beyond reproach or redemption.