Guided by Faith: Communication Strategies for Divorced Parents

Unfortunately, separation and divorce happen. When there are children involved, divorcing parents can’t and shouldn’t just move on. Both parents’ continued cooperation and a healthy co-parenting partnership is best for children.  Maintaining civil conversations after a divorce, especially for the sake of your children, can be challenging. Here are some suggestions that might help.

Communication Strategies

  1. Focus on the children – Keep the conversation centered on your children’s needs and well-being. Avoid bringing up past grievances or using the conversation as an opportunity to attack your ex.
  2. Stick to facts – Avoid emotionally charged language and accusations. Instead, focus on stating facts and proposing solutions to specific issues.
  3. Listen actively – Truly listen to your ex’s perspective without interrupting or judging. Acknowledge their concerns and try to understand their point of view.
  4. Use “I” statements – Speak from your own perspective and feelings, using “I” statements like “I feel concerned about…” instead of accusatory “you” statements.
  5. Choose the right time and place – Avoid discussing sensitive topics when stressed, tired, or in front of the children. Choose a neutral location for communication, like email or text, if phone calls tend to escalate.

Be careful! Email and text messages can be easily misunderstood. Take care to maintain a respectful tone. Avoid sarcastic and negative language.  Double-check for typos, grammatical errors, and factual mistakes before sending.

Setting Boundaries

  1. Establish ground rules – Agree on communication guidelines, like avoiding certain topics or disrespectful language.
  2. Respect boundaries – If the conversation becomes heated, take a break and resume it later when you’ve both calmed down.
  3. Maintain separate lives – Respect each other’s privacy and avoid getting involved in their new relationships.
  4. Don’t co-parent through your children – Avoid using your children to relay messages or get information from your ex. Communicate directly with each other.

Communicating About Household Rules

Creating household rules for children after a divorce is crucial for providing stability and security during a challenging time. Here are some tips to help you navigate this process:

Collaboration is Key

  • Work with your ex-partner – If possible, create the rules together to ensure consistency across both households. Discuss your individual expectations and find common ground.
  • Consider a mediator – If working directly with your ex is difficult, consider involving a neutral third party, like a mediator or therapist, to facilitate communication and agreement.

Focus on the Child’s Needs

  • Age-appropriate and understandable – Tailor the rules to your child’s age and developmental level. Ensure they clearly understand them and why they exist.
  • Emphasize respect and responsibility – Frame the rules positively, focusing on mutual respect, responsibility, and healthy living.
  • Address core values – Align the rules with your shared values as parents, focusing on important aspects like kindness, honesty, safety, and responsibility.

Consistency is Vital

  • Similar rules in both homes – As much as possible, strive for consistent rules and expectations across both households. This reduces confusion and provides stability for your child.
  • Clear consequences – Establish clear and age-appropriate consequences for breaking the rules. Ensure both parents enforce them consistently.
  • Open communication – Encourage open communication with your child. Listen to their concerns and provide explanations for the rules.

Flexibility and Support

  • Allow for some variation – While consistency is important, allow for some flexibility based on individual circumstances and situations.
  • Address emotional needs – Acknowledge that your child may be struggling emotionally. Provide support and reassurance, and be empathetic to their feelings.
  • Celebrate successes – Celebrate your child’s efforts to follow the rules and make positive choices.

Additional Tips

  • Involve your child – Consider involving your child in creating the rules, giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility.
  • Review and adjust as needed – Over time, you may need to review and adjust the rules as your child grows and matures.
  • Seek professional help – If you’re struggling, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor specializing in co-parenting or divorce.
  • Focus on the future – Remember that you are on the same team, working together to raise your children.
  • Prioritize your children’s well-being – Even if you can’t be friends, be civil and respectful for the sake of your children.

Remember, there will be good days and bad days. Be patient, consistent, and focused on creating a healthy environment for your children to thrive in.

Transforming from a couple relationship to a co-parent team

After a separation, parents need to transform their former partnership into a parenting team around their child. It’s important for the child that each parent takes care of them – plays, cooks, shouts, reads bedtime stories and picks them up after basketball practice – but also how the parents interact with each other. This actually plays an unexpectedly large role for the child.

At the same time as you build your own new homes and family lives, you also need to build a structure that carries the child between the parents, through a sustainable network of communication and collaboration. A parenting team helps the child put their world together and creates a feeling that they are parents together, no matter where they live. Even though parents will experience new relationships, get mad at each other and sometimes only communicate through email, they will continue to be parents together.

For the child, what has happened in your relationship is less important than you being its parents.

Malin Bergström, child psychologist and researcher

Guidance from the Holy Scriptures

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. – Philippians 2:3-4 NLT

To see the value of a strong family in a child’s life please read our report on “The Long-term Consequences of Growing Up Without a Father.”

 Join

We invite you to join this new and growing community of fathers, Fathering Strong. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Go to www.fatheringstrong.com to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

Educational Impact: How Fathers Make a Difference in Schools

The presence and involvement of men and fathers are essential to the health of communities. You’ve often heard the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I agree and would add, “It takes the entire village, including its men.” When mature, responsible men and fathers actively engage in their children’s schools, they are safer and more orderly.  In today’s blog, we will provide some suggestions for how you can be part of serving your community and your child’s school.

Servant Leading in Your Child’s School

Positive male role models greatly benefit elementary and secondary school campuses.

When mature, responsible men and fathers are present, they demonstrate that education is important. Some students, unfortunately, live in homes where education is not emphasized. In other cases, some of their peers discourage academic excellence by making it seem uncool. For further insight into building strong fatherhood communities, read my blog post “Joining in Community to Strengthen Your Fathering.”

Three Benefits of Father Presence in Schools

1. Mentorship and Support:

  • Male Role Models: Volunteers can provide mentorship and guidance for students lacking positive male figures, especially relevant for boys facing societal pressures or navigating adolescence.
  • Academic Boost: Volunteers can offer one-on-one tutoring or assist with homework, addressing individual learning needs and potentially improving academic performance.
  • Social and Emotional Support: By building relationships with students, volunteers can provide emotional support and encouragement, helping them develop social skills, confidence, and resilience.

2. Enrichment and Engagement:

  • Diverse Skills and Expertise: Volunteers can bring their professional skills and hobbies to share with students, offering unique learning experiences and sparking new interests. This could range from coding workshops to woodworking projects, financial literacy lessons, or music production sessions.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Volunteers can coach sports teams, lead clubs, or assist with field trips, providing additional opportunities for students to explore their interests, develop skills, and build teamwork.
  • Career Mentorship and Guidance: Volunteers can share their career paths and offer real-world insights, helping students explore future options and make informed decisions about their education and future goals.

3. Community Building and Support:

  • Fatherhood Engagement: Male volunteers can encourage and facilitate fathers’ involvement in their children’s education, strengthening family connections and contributing to a more supportive school environment.
  • School Events and Initiatives: Volunteers can lend a helping hand with school events, fundraisers, or community service projects, fostering a sense of collaboration and contributing to the overall well-being of the school.
  • Positive Male Presence: Simply having more positive male figures present in the school can help break down stereotypes and create a more inclusive environment for all students.

Adult male volunteers also enhance the security of students by providing extra sets of eyes, and they reduce bullying.

Ways for Fathers to Get Involved in the Child’s School

Contact your child’s school administration or local community organizations for potential volunteer service opportunities. Some communities have organizations and programs that focus on male volunteerism in schools. One good example of an organization that provides fathers opportunities to become involved in their child’s school is an organization called “Watch DOGS.”

Watch DOGS is a national educational initiative in the United States that encourages fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other male figures to volunteer at their child’s elementary school for at least one day a year. DOGS stands for “Dads of Great Students.” The program aims to provide positive male role models for students, enhance school security, and reduce bullying.

Watch DOGS History:

  • It was founded in 1998 in Arkansas by Jim Gillum, a retired law enforcement officer, after witnessing a lack of positive male role models in his grandson’s school.
  • Grew rapidly through word-of-mouth and media coverage, expanding to all 50 states.
  • Now serves over 50,000 schools and involves millions of volunteers nationwide.

Watch DOGS Program Structure:

  • Schools typically hold “Launch Events” or information sessions to introduce the program and recruit volunteers.
  • Fathers or other male figures sign up for a day to volunteer at their child’s school, participating in various activities like:
    • Assisting teachers in classrooms
    • Mentoring students individually or in small groups
    • Monitoring hallways and lunchrooms
    • Participating in special events or field trips
    • Sharing their careers and hobbies with students

Watch DOGS Benefits:

  • For Students:
    • Positive male role models and mentors
    • Improved academic performance and classroom behavior
    • Reduced bullying and an increased sense of security
    • Exposure to diverse viewpoints and career paths
  • For Schools:
    • Additional support for teachers and staff
    • Enhanced school safety and climate
    • Increased parental involvement and community engagement
  • For Volunteers:
    • Meaningful opportunity to contribute to their child’s education and the community
    • Connect with their child and other students
    • Gain new skills and experiences

Learn more at the Watch DOGS website: https://dadsofgreatstudents.com/parent-volunteers/

Additional Organizations and Programs Focused on Father Volunteerism in Schools

National Organizations:

Regional/Local Organizations:

  • Project READ: (Boston, MA) Volunteers read with elementary school students, specifically targeting boys with low reading scores.
  • Dads on Duty: (Chicago, IL) Male volunteers patrol school hallways and foster positive relationships with students.
  • Men of Valor: (Washington, DC) Mentorship program pairing retired black men with at-risk youth.
  • Man Up Texas: (Houston, TX) Initiative promoting positive male role models and fatherhood engagement.
  • Fatherhood Incorporated (Los Angeles, CA) Supports fathers through workshops, support groups, and community events.

Blessing Your Community

The fathers in your community can benefit greatly from your servant leadership. Consider organizing a weekly gathering of dads. Together, you can:

  • Get encouragement and support from other dads on the same journey.
  • Learn new tips and strategies for parenting, marriage, and relationships.
  • Have fun and build memories with your kids.
  • Make a difference in your family and community.
  • Discuss the content of these Fathering Strong blogs and other resources on the website.
  • Share your stories.

The Fathering Strong app lets you and your village dads connect virtually on mobile devices.   

For more ideas for hosting a local father’s group and/or helping set up a Fathering Strong Dad’s community, chat with me on the Fathering Strong app or email ewilliams@urbanight.org.   

Instruction from the Holy Scriptures

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

– Romans 15:1-2 The Message

Join Fathering Strong

Register, download the free Fathering Strong app, and turn on the notifications. Do it today and become a part of the Fathering Strong Community of Dads.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

Fathers: The Missing Pillars in Faith Communities – Why Your Presence Matters Now More Than Ever

Men are called to lead, not only at home but also in their faith community.  When your presence is felt because you participate in the activities of your congregation, it makes a significantly positive impact on your children, other children, and the entire fellowship. Your servant leadership is needed now more than ever.  

Men and Fathers are Missing from the Church

Faith communities are reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Church attendance among both genders dropped to a record low during the height of the pandemic. Studies suggest that around 45-50% of regular churchgoers were men before the pandemic.  Surveys indicate that around a quarter of men who regularly attended church pre-pandemic now do so less frequently or not at all.

Why Your Presence is Important

With the prevalence of single-mother households today, it is more important than ever that churches be places where good men are present and functioning as servant leaders.

  • As of 2022, around 15.04 million families in the United States have a female householder and no spouse present. This represents roughly 21% of all family households.
  • Nearly 24 million children, or about one in three kids in the US, live in a single-parent family. Of these, over 14.5 million live with their single mother.

I don’t think it can be overstated how vital it is for caring and humble-hearted men to be visible and available to serve within their faith communities.

For Boys

Men can serve as positive role models for other men and boys, demonstrating masculinity that aligns with the faith’s values. Men may be expected to provide spiritual guidance and support to younger men, mentor boys, and contribute to practical tasks like maintaining the faith’s physical space or offering physical protection.

“[A boy] needs a man in his life, a male role model, to show him what it means to be a man. It has nothing to do with machismo or dominance. It has to do with responsibility, with respect, with empathy, with strength.”

– Barack Obama

A boy without a positive, faith-filled male role model is more likely to engage in dangerous behavior, drop out of school, suffer emotionally, and have difficulty establishing healthy relationships. Not only are mature, responsible males important for boys, but girls also benefit from seeing and knowing them.

For Girls

Girls and young women need to witness love and respect for women modeled by faithful men. This is particularly vital when so many do not have such a male model at home.  They need to experience old-fashioned courtesies performed by adult men for women, such as opening doors, and saying, “Yes ma’am” and “No ma’am” to older women of the fellowship.

Honorable men, rooted in their faith and dignified, show girls what it is like to be treated with respect by spouses. Such men raise the bar of what women should desire in a mate. They demonstrate what it means to be respected by a male. The church is where females should find such male servant leaders.

These ideas may seem antiquated in an age of “progressiveness.”  But, like chivalry, these timeless virtues remain relevant and valuable even today. These principles, rooted in faith and notions of grace and gentlemanliness can serve as a guiding light for navigating life with integrity and purpose.

As servant leaders, we should be characterized by the showing of kindness, consideration, and respect to everyone, regardless of their station in life. It’s about treating others with the same dignity and respect you expect for yourself. It epitomizes the Golden Rule… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12)

Being an Encourager

Mutual encouragement is a powerful benefit of faith community fellowship. It is uplifting to see and be seen by others who share your faith. To know that others are praying for you and are hoping for the best for you. To be intimately acquainted with the struggle of others, and to witness the power of their faith to help them overcome.

Sharing your stories of failure and success, struggle and victory can be very positive to someone who is going through a trial of their faith. When they realize that your faith brought you through, it is an encouragement to not give up.

The Power of Encouragement

Think of a child learning to walk. With each wobbly step, they face the risk of falling. But there, near them, stands a parent, arms outstretched, eyes beaming with encouragement. “You can do it!”, they whisper, their voice a lifeline of hope. And with renewed confidence, the child takes another step, and another, until finally, they walk. The parent’s encouragement wasn’t just empty words; it was the fuel that propelled the child forward, the belief that turned wobbly legs into instruments of accomplishment.

Encouragement isn’t just for the young and vulnerable. It’s a catalyst for all ages and stages of life, a force that can rekindle the fire in a weary soul or fuel the fire of a triumphant warrior for the faith. Encouragement can propel a seasoned professional to new heights in their career.  A timely word of appreciation can reignite the passion of a jaded artist. Encouragement has the power to transform doubt into determination, fear into courage, and failure into a stepping stone to success.

Being present is essential to the one wanting to be of humble service to his fellow followers. Even the smallest acts of encouragement of a fellow believer can have a ripple effect, spreading positivity and inspiring others to do the same. Make your faith community a more encouraging place, one kind word or action at a time.

We Need More Men Like Hur

Servant leadership can be a thankless job. There is an example of this in the Bible. Israel’s bitter enemy attacked them without warning. Israel’s leader and prophet Moses said to Joshua, the commander of the army, “Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” While Moses’ hands were up, the Israelite army was winning the battle. But, when his hands went down from the stress of holding them and the staff upward, the enemy would prevail. So, Moses’ brother Aaron and a man named Hur brought a stone for Moses to sit on, stood on each side of him, and supported his hands until sundown. The Israelites won!  Read the account In Exodus 17:8-13.

Mostly unknown, Hur seems to appear from out of nowhere, do his job, and then disappear. Yet, he performed a service that resulted in victory for his people. He was in the right place, at the right time, and did the right thing. He and Aaron saw the situation and stepped in to assist their leader. This is the type of servant leadership that is needed. Are you willing to do what is needed without being noticed or seeking acknowledgment? That’s servant leadership.

Thankfully, We do Have Some “Hurs”

Pastor Kevin L. Jones wrote…

“Early in my ministry, I preached a few times in a church in St. Clair County. There was a man who had been an active member of that specific church for over 60 years. In years past he had done it all. He taught Sunday School, worked with the youth, led the singing, and chaired several committees, but by the time I met him, age had taken its toll and one by one he had to give up those jobs in the church that he loved so much. But there were a few things left that he could do. He would show up 30 minutes early and unlock the door. Walk through the church and turn the lights on. He would adjust the thermostat accordingly. He would place a bottle of water on the pulpit for the preacher and brew the coffee for the Sunday School teacher. When the service was over he would wait for everyone else to leave. Then he would walk through the church, turn off all the lights, and lock the door. It was a thankless job. There was no pat on the back, not even a title for the job. Most people had no idea how those things got done. But he didn’t care. He was just doing his part to make things a little easier for others to do their part.”

You may not have a specific title. You may not receive any recognition, but you are valuable to your family, your church, local ministries, and most importantly, to the Lord.

Building Men’s Fellowship

We men need each other for mutual encouragement. Fathering can be a lonely job when done in isolation. If your faith community does not have a men’s fellowship, your male members may be missing out on a great resource. Seeing the need, perhaps you can be the one to suggest that one be formed. Maybe you are the “Hur” who will take the initiative to get it started but not necessarily be the one to lead it. Or maybe so.

I have been a part of men’s fellowships over the years and can testify to the value that has been added to my life. Men’s groups within congregations provide opportunities for shared support and spiritual enrichment. Community-based men’s groups enable believers across denominations, churches, and ethnicities to establish and nurture relationships. This builds unity and models peace and harmony for the broader community.

Virtual Men’s and Father’s Communities

Fathering Strong provides a platform for forming groups over the free mobile app. The mission of Fathering Strong is to grow communities of fathers who are dedicated to supporting each other through their fathering and faith journeys while building stronger families and communities. Like-minded fathers can build communities, share stories, ask for help, and get the support they need to be their best as fathers and men. All on their mobile device.

Perhaps you can consider serving your community by establishing a Fathering Strong community for your local church, community, or fathers in a similar set of circumstances.

Examples of Groups that Can Form on Fathering Strong:

  • Single Dads
  • Expectant Fathers
  • Unfathered Men
  • Fathers of Young Children
  • Noncustodial Fathers
  • First Time Dads
  • Reentering Fathers
  • Stay at Home Dads
  • Non-resident Fathers
  • Fathers in Blended Families
  • Other

In addition to fatherhood community leaders, there are opportunities such as content contributors, moderators, and mentors.

The volunteer possibilities are practically unlimited. Explore www.fatheringstrong.com for more ideas on how you can be a servant leader of dads.

Instruction from the Holy Scriptures

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25

Join

The Fathering Strong community is here to help you have a great beginning to 2024. By joining, you can connect with other dads for mutual encouragement. Discuss the content of these blogs. Share your stories, learn from others, and maybe even mentor a young dad. Be as involved as you choose to be. Register, download the free Fathering Strong app, and turn on the notifications. Do it today and become a part of the Fathering Strong Community of Dads.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Go to www.fatheringstrong.com to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

Discover the Power of Fathers as Servant Leaders

Building Stronger Communities: It Begins at Home

Strong fathers are a great asset in communities. The positive impact you can have on building a better world for families and children cannot be overstated. But it all starts at home. We will consider things a dad can do to optimize his servant leadership.

Defining Servant Leadership

Years ago, I heard a story about a young husband who came home from a Bible study fired up about what he had just learned. He said to his wife, the Bible says “I am the head of the house, and you are not!” She just looked at him for a moment and then responded, “You may be the head, but I am the neck and I’ll turn you whichever way I want to go.” Oops. The idea that being the head of the house puts one in a position of superiority that should be wielded like a sledgehammer is all too common. That does not end well.  A better understanding of the role of the family head is that of a servant leader.

Generally speaking, servant leadership is a philosophy and a model of leadership that prioritizes the needs of the people being served, putting them first and helping them to develop and perform as highly as possible. It’s a more person-centered approach to leadership, as opposed to the traditional, more hierarchical model where the leader is at the top and gives orders to those below them.

Seven characteristics of servant leadership:

  1. Emphasis on service: Servant leaders see their role as being of service to others, rather than as being in a position of power over them.
  2. Empathy: Servant leaders can put themselves in the shoes of others and understand their needs and feelings.
  3. Listening: Servant leaders are good listeners who make time to hear what others have to say, even if they disagree with it.
  4. Humility: Servant leaders are humble and don’t see themselves as being above others.
  5. Stewardship: Servant leaders are stewards of the organization and its people, and they are committed to its long-term success.
  6. Empowerment: Servant leaders empower others to make decisions and take risks.
  7. Growth: Servant leaders are committed to the personal and professional growth of others.

Called to Serve and Lead the Family

When it comes to fatherhood and family, God created Adam first. He was placed as the head of his family to love, lead, and serve them. Servant leadership of the family is a great privilege and responsibility. The head of a household plays a crucial role in fostering a happy and thriving family environment. Applying the principles of servant leadership to this role can have a profound impact on the dynamics and well-being of everyone within the household.

Tips for becoming a servant leader head of household include these core principles in action:

  • Empathy and understanding: Put yourself in the shoes of each family member. Consider their perspectives, needs, and feelings. Actively listen to their concerns and communicate openly and honestly.
  • Empowerment and autonomy: Encourage family members to take ownership of tasks and responsibilities. Delegate chores based on age and ability, providing guidance and support but allowing room for independent learning and growth.
  • Growth and development: Foster a supportive environment where everyone feels encouraged to learn, explore, and reach their full potential. Provide opportunities for education, skill development, and personal growth activities.
  • Collaboration and teamwork: Approach tasks and challenges as a team, working together towards common goals. Involve family members in decision-making processes and celebrate successes as a unit.
  • Humility and service: Be willing to roll up your sleeves and get involved in the everyday tasks of running a household. Prioritize the needs of the family above your own and lead by example through acts of service and support.

Loving and Serving Your Wife

Women tell me that it is not difficult for a wife to follow a husband who loves her, serves her well, and leads with honor. To build a stronger relationship with the mother of your children, try out-serving her. Saying “I love you”, is a good thing, but loving actions speak louder than those words. Love does. Love gives. It goes over and above.

Here are some suggestions for incorporating servant leadership principles into your marriage.

Empathy and Understanding:

  • Actively listen: Give your wife your full attention, without distractions. Show genuine interest in her thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
  • Validate her emotions: Acknowledge and empathize with her feelings, even if you don’t always agree. Let her know she’s heard and that her emotions matter.
  • Put yourself in her shoes: Try to see things from her perspective. Consider her workload, responsibilities, and emotional state.

Empowerment and Autonomy:

  • Share household responsibilities: Be an equal partner in chores and childcare. Don’t assume traditional gender roles. Delegate tasks based on strengths and preferences.
  • Support her goals and dreams: Encourage her personal and professional aspirations. Offer assistance and celebrate her achievements.
  • Respect her decisions: Trust her judgment and give her space to make choices, even if they differ from yours.

Growth and Development:

  • Prioritize communication: Regularly have open and honest conversations about your relationship, hopes, and dreams for the future.
  • Be open to feedback: Welcoming constructive criticism allows both of you to grow and improve together.
  • Encourage her personal growth: Support her hobbies, interests, and learning pursuits. Be her biggest cheerleader.

Collaboration and Teamwork:

  • Approach challenges as a team: Work together to solve problems and make decisions. Value her input and expertise.
  • Celebrate successes together: Acknowledge each other’s contributions and share the joy of accomplishments.
  • Maintain a playful and fun atmosphere: Keep the spark alive by making time for shared activities, laughter, and romance.

Humility and Service:

  • Be willing to serve: Offer help with everyday tasks without being asked. Do things that make her life easier and show you care.
  • Put your needs second: Prioritize her well-being and happiness above your own. Be willing to make sacrifices for the good of the relationship.
  • Apologize sincerely: Take responsibility for your mistakes and express genuine remorse when you hurt her.

Remember: Your children are watching as you serve their mother well. They are observing her response to your loving leadership.

Servant Leadership focused on your Children

Children do not need a buddy; they need a father. A mature, responsible, loving, and nurturing adult male role model to lead them.  Being a father is about so much more than just providing and disciplining. It’s about creating a nurturing environment where your children feel loved, valued, and empowered to reach their full potential. Applying the principles of servant leadership to your parenting style can be a powerful way to achieve this. Read some of the many benefits of a present father’s positive impacts on their children’s lives.

Here are some key ways to put fatherhood servant leadership into action:

Empathy and Understanding:

  • Connect emotionally: Get down to their level, both physically and figuratively. Listen actively to their joys and sorrows, validate their feelings, and let them know you’re there for them.
  • See the world through their eyes: Try to understand their perspective on situations, even if it differs from yours. Consider their age, developmental stage, and individual needs.
  • Embrace vulnerability: Sharing your own emotions and experiences can create deeper connections and show your children it’s okay to be vulnerable.

Empowerment and Autonomy:

  • Provide opportunities for choice: Let them make decisions within their capabilities, whether it’s choosing their clothes or selecting bedtime stories. This builds confidence and independence.
  • Encourage healthy risk-taking: Allow them to explore and learn from their mistakes, providing guidance and support without hovering. This fosters resilience and problem-solving skills.
  • Trust their capabilities: Believe in their potential and give them room to grow. Avoid micromanaging or constantly criticizing their efforts.

Growth and Development:

  • Be a lifelong learner: Lead by example by showing your own curiosity and love for learning. Engage in shared activities like reading, exploring nature, or trying new things together.
  • Nurture their talents and interests: Provide resources and opportunities for them to explore their passions. Attend their performances, celebrate their achievements, and offer constructive feedback.
  • Foster critical thinking: Ask open-ended questions, encourage healthy debate, and help them form their own opinions and beliefs.

Collaboration and Teamwork:

  • Approach challenges as a team: Work together to solve problems and make decisions that affect everyone. Value their input and ideas, even if they’re different from yours.
  • Celebrate successes together: Recognize and appreciate each other’s contributions, both big and small. Share the joy of accomplishments and build a sense of shared purpose.
  • Create a family council: Hold regular meetings where everyone can discuss household issues, concerns, and ideas. This promotes communication and teamwork.

Humility and Service:

  • Be willing to help with everyday tasks: Share in household chores and responsibilities without expecting praise or recognition. This teaches them the value of teamwork and contribution.
  • Put their needs before your own: Be ready to sacrifice your time, energy, and resources to support their well-being and happiness. Remember, it’s about serving and nurturing them.
  • Model humility and forgiveness: Admit your mistakes, sincerely apologize and show them it’s okay to be imperfect. This teaches them valuable lessons about grace and self-compassion.

Remember, servant leadership is a journey, not a destination. It’s about building a strong foundation of trust, respect, and collaboration within the household. By consistently applying these principles, you can create a nurturing environment where everyone feels valued, empowered, and supported to thrive. Enjoy the process, embrace the challenges, and cherish the moments of connection and growth you share with your little ones.

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.

Psalms 103:13

Join

The Fathering Strong community is here to help you have a great beginning to 2024. By joining, you will be able to connect with other dads for mutual encouragement. Discuss the content of these blogs. Share your stories, learn from others, and maybe even mentor a young dad. Be as involved as you choose to be. Register, download the free Fathering Strong app, and turn on the notifications. Do it today and become a part of the Fathering Strong Community of dads.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

Working Your Plan to Becoming a Better Father

Building a Relationship Around Your Child’s Interests

You’ve probably heard the saying… “failing to plan is planning to fail.” When maximizing your presence with your child this year, you are not planning to fail, or you wouldn’t be investing your time reading these blogs. Success is “planning your work and working your plan.” To help ensure your plan for becoming a better father and maximizing your parenting time is successful, we recommend you identify your child’s interests and focus on dad-child activities around those.

Discover Your Young Child’s Interests

Finding out what your youngster is most interested in can be a fun and rewarding journey! Here are some ways you can help a young child explore and identify their passions:

Observation:

  • Watch their play: Pay close attention to what they naturally gravitate towards. Do they love building towers with blocks, drawing imaginary creatures, or digging in the dirt? Observe how they spend their free time and what toys or activities hold their attention the most.
  • Notice their reactions: What makes them light up with joy and excitement? Do they get absorbed in specific books, animated movies, or TV shows? What topics spark their curiosity and lead to questions?

Conversation and Engagement:

  • Talk to them: Have open-ended conversations about their day, likes and dislikes, and dreams. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings freely. Ask questions like “What was your favorite part of today?” or “What would you do if you could be anything in the world?”
  • Read together: Choose books on various topics and see which ones they gravitate towards. Ask questions about the stories and characters to gauge their interest.
  • Engage in play: Join them in their activities and let them lead the way. This will give you a firsthand look at their preferred play styles and creative tendencies.

Exploration and Experimentation:

  • Provide opportunities for new experiences: Expose them to different activities, hobbies, and sports. This could include music classes, art workshops, nature walks, museum visits, or sports tryouts. See what sparks their curiosity and motivates them to learn more.
  • Offer open-ended materials: Provide them with materials like art supplies, building blocks, play dough, or dress-up clothes. This allows them to use their imagination and explore different interests freely.
  • Encourage questions and curiosity: Celebrate their questions and curiosity about the world around them. This is a sign of a young mind actively seeking knowledge and understanding.

Remember:

  • Be patient: It takes time for children to discover their interests. Don’t force anything and let them explore at their own pace.
  • Be open-minded: Avoid projecting your interests onto your child. Be open to whatever sparks their curiosity, even if it’s something you don’t understand.
  • Focus on the process, not the outcome: The most important thing is to create a nurturing and encouraging environment where your child feels safe to explore their interests without pressure.

By observing, engaging, and providing opportunities for exploration, you can help your child discover their unique passions and talents. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination!

Common Interests

When you and your child share an interest, that’s gold! For instance, if you both enjoy music, you could plan activities around exploring different styles, genres, cultures, etc. Attend live performances. Learn to play an instrument together.

It’s Okay to Share Your Interests

For instance, if you are a sports fan, share your interest in sports without forcing it upon your child. Here is where the need for planning comes in. Being serious about maximizing your moments with your child, you may choose to skip the watch party at the bar with your buds. Instead, plan to watch the competition with your child. Consider how to be creative in making it a child-friendly experience.  

If you are into pro football, you should know that the NFL has partnered with CBS and Nickelodeon to present a kids-focused Super Bowl 58 event live on February 11, 2024. Although the Nickelodeon alternative telecast of Super Bowl LVIII is focused on entertaining kids, the network aims to keep parents interested in the action.

According to CBS Sports, the Nickelodeon presentations — which feature eye-popping graphics that feature slime-filled end zones or SpongeBob SquarePants between the goalposts on field-goal attempts — have also received plenty of acclaim for their ability to introduce a younger age group to the basics of the game but also focused on the action happening on the field to keep parents interested.    Learn more at:  https://www.nfl.com/news/cbs-sports-nickelodeon-team-up-for-first-ever-super-bowl-alternate-telecast

Who knows… your child may turn out to be a fan of your favorite team! Wouldn’t that be sweet? Think of all the great times you could enjoy together over your lifetimes. But, alas, there’s always the possibility that your kid will realize they hate football. Oh well, it was worth a try.

Better fathers connect with their teens

Planning Daddy-Teen Daughter Bonding Time

Teenagers, especially girls, can be a tricky crowd to please, but some quality daddy-daughter time can go a long way in strengthening your bond and fostering positive memories. Here are some ideas, keeping in mind her age and interests:

Creative and Collaborative:

  • Write a song or poem together: Pick a theme (her favorite book, a funny memory) and take turns adding lines or verses.
  • Start a creative project: Build a model rocket, paint a mural, or even write a comic book together.
  • Learn a new skill together: Take a pottery class, try coding, or learn a new language. The shared learning experience can be a great bonding activity.

Outdoor Adventures:

  • Go on a hike or bike ride: Explore local trails or bike paths and enjoy the fresh air and scenery. Pack a picnic lunch for an extra treat.
  • Stargaze: Find a dark spot away from city lights and spend the night learning about constellations and sharing stories.
  • Volunteer together: Choose a cause you both care about and spend an afternoon volunteering at a local animal shelter, soup kitchen, or park cleanup.

Active and Fun:

  • Arcade night: Challenge her to air hockey, Dance Dance Revolution, or classic arcade games.
  • Board game marathon: Dust off your favorite board games and have a friendly competition.
  • Theme park trip: Spend the day riding roller coasters, playing carnival games, and enjoying the excitement.

Quality Time and Conversation:

  • Coffee date: Take her to her favorite coffee shop for a latte and chat about her life, dreams, and anything else on her mind.
  • Movie marathon: Pick a genre you both enjoy and spend the day curled up on the couch with popcorn and laughter.
  • Book club for two: Choose a book you’re both interested in and discuss it over dinner or a relaxing evening at home.

Remember:

  • Be flexible and open to her suggestions.
  • Focus on quality time and connection, not just the activity itself.
  • Make it a regular thing to spend time together.
  • Most importantly, have fun and enjoy each other’s company!
Stay focused to become a better father

Tips for Maintaining Your Bond with Older Children

Maintaining a strong bond with your older children as they navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence and beyond can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Here are some suggestions that can help dads stay connected with their growing kids:

Embrace the Shift:

  • Recognize that the dynamic is changing. Your child is no longer a little kid who needs constant supervision. They’re becoming more independent and need more space to explore their own identities.
  • Adjust your communication style. Ditch the one-sided lectures and baby talk. Instead, focus on active listening, open-ended questions, and genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings.

Nurture Shared Interests:

  • Find common ground. Do you both enjoy sports, music, movies, or gaming? Dedicate time to these shared activities, creating bonding experiences and fostering conversations.
  • Be open to their interests. Even if you don’t understand everything about K-pop or the intricacies of competitive gaming, try to learn more and show genuine interest. This shows you care about their world.

Maximize Your Moments Together:

  • Schedule regular one-on-one time. This could be a weekly coffee date, a monthly movie night, or simply an hour of uninterrupted conversation each week. Let them choose the activity to make it feel special.
  • Make the most of everyday moments. Seize opportunities for casual chats during car rides, while cooking dinner, or before bed. These small moments of connection add up over time.

Offer Support and Guidance:

  • Be a safe space for them to confide in. Let them know you’re always there to listen without judgment, even when they make mistakes.
  • Offer guidance and advice when needed, but avoid being overbearing. Remember, they’re learning to make their own decisions, so trust their judgment and offer support from the sidelines.

Respect Their Independence:

  • Give them space to grow and explore. Avoid hovering or micromanaging. Trust that they’ll make responsible choices and come to you if they need help.
  • Respect their privacy. Don’t pry into their personal lives or social media activities. Instead, build trust by respecting their boundaries and offering support without intrusion.

Remember, dads:

  • Maintaining a strong bond takes planning and effort. Be patient, and consistent. Show your love and support in various ways.
  • Every child is different. What works for one might not work for another. Tailor your approach based on your child’s unique personality and needs.
  • Most importantly, have fun! Enjoy each other’s company, create lasting memories, and cherish the gift of fatherhood.

By following these tips and putting in the effort, you can ensure that your bond with your older children remains strong and grows even closer as they navigate the exciting journey into adulthood.

Cherish Fatherhood to become a better father

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

– Proverbs 22:6 NIV

Join Fathering Strong

The Fathering Strong community is here to help you have a great beginning to the new year. By joining, you can connect with other dads for mutual encouragement. Discuss the content of these blogs. Share your stories, learn from others, and maybe even mentor a young dad. Be as involved as you choose to be. Register, download the free Fathering Strong app, and turn on the notifications. Do it today and join the Fathering Strong Community of Dads.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Go to www.fatheringstrong.com to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work and mission explore www.urbanlight.org.