There are so many people in the world who will tell you what it means to be a good husband or how to be a good father. You will get a different set of standards depending on who you listen to. In fact, the media, social media, family, friends, and parenting groups will all give different criteria for being a good father and husband. So how do you sort out all of this information? We have some tips and ideas on how to be a good father and husband that are sure to help simplify things a bit.
How to be a good father and husband
Properly invest time
Many fathers and husbands are tasked with what seems to be an impossible job. They are challenged to work a valuable job, be fully engaged with their spouse, and be fully engaged at home while maintaining a proper balance between all of the other areas of their lives. While this can seem incredibly overwhelming, it doesn’t have to. In fact, there are some simple tips we can share with you for properly investing time in the right way. Here are a few simple ideas to help you better balance all the different areas that demand your time.
Ways to manage your time as a father and husband
Schedule your time. - It can be easier to lose track of time when you don’t have a clear schedule in place. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to take the time to sit down at the beginning of each week and schedule your time. This will help you to make sure that things that are important to your spouse or children are part of your schedule for the week. It’s also a fantastic way to avoid missing an important event or appointment.
Set your goals as a father and husband. - When you became a father and husband there were certain ideals you held to about the experience. It may be that bedtime stories with the kids should always be a priority or that date night with your wife should happen monthly. Or it might be bigger things like packing a backpack and going on a campaign trip with the kids. Take some time to set these goals. Knowing what your goals are will help you to better manage where you invest your time.
Know what to say no to. - After taking the time to focus on goals and personal beliefs, you will have a better understanding of what to say no to. By defining what your goals are, you can then look at items through that lens. Ask yourself, “Will saying yes to this take away my focus from one of my main parenting or marriage goals?” Having that clear filter can help you to say no easier so that you can invest your time where it matters most. Take some time to break down what your must do’s are so you know when you can safely say no to something.
Find ways to include the family. - If there are items on your schedule for the week that aren’t directly focused on the family or your spouse, is there a way to include them? Sometimes spending time together can be the goal instead of the activity. For instance, grocery shopping is a must but it might be a great time to take one child along for a daddy date out. While life may not always allow for quality time in a traditional way, there are many ways to let the people in your life know they matter by including them in your day to day life.
Look for practical teaching moments
As a dad, one of the most important things you can do is to watch for teaching moments. Having conversations about things as life brings practical teaching moments can be more effective than having a talk at a structured time. Some examples of this might be when a child notices something different about someone. It can be so helpful to use that moment to teach a child how to behave with people who are different from them.
3 Ways to take advantage of teaching moments
Keep it simple when it comes to these conversations. You will not need to go extremely detailed as many of these conversations will continue throughout your child’s life. Many of these conversations will be had in different ways as your child continues to grow up. You may not talk about bullying the same way with your five-year-old that you do with your thirteen-year-old but both conversations are important.
Keep it age-appropriate. - When you are talking with children about different teachable moments keep their age in mind. Parents have a tendency to overshare in an effort to teach a specific concept or life lesson. Sometimes the best way to start the conversations is with a question. Finding out your child’s starting point can help you to know how far to take the conversation.
Let questions lead. - Some of the most teachable moments you will ever find come in the form of questions from your children. While some of the million questions kids ask don’t need to be answered, make sure to watch for the questions that matter. Oftentimes a big question can be hiding underneath some of the smaller questions your children ask you.
Ask for Help
One of the more difficult things for many men to do is to ask for help. With a push to be the strong one and the provider, many men hesitate to reach out for help. While some men can pull from prior experiences, not all men have that foundation. So how do men ask for help from others without feeling less than? We have some simple tips for asking for help that are sure to encourage you and equip you to reach out to the right people for help.
Who can dads ask for help?
Family members - If you have family that you still speak with regularly, it might be time to ask one of the men in your family for help. This could mean asking about different parts of fatherhood or for help with a specific task. For some things such as diapering, feeding, or other needs you could also ask the women in your family. The goal is to reach out to those who care for you and your family. Many family members will be glad to answer questions if asked.
Friends - Sometimes asking family can be uncomfortable. Some family members are not the most encouraging. Others may not understand or be equipped to give the best answer. Reaching out to friends who have been fathers or husbands before you can be a great way to troubleshoot a problem you might have. When you are looking for someone to ask for help, ask friends if they can help answer your questions.
Reliable websites - Not all websites are created equal. When looking for parenting or marriage advice you won’t want to blindly search the internet. Instead, find a few reliable websites that will give unbiased honest advice. These could be sites written by other dads. These could also include sites written by a parenting specialist or pediatrician. By finding these reliable sites you can get honest answers while maintaining privacy.
Parenting support groups - Whether you join a dad support group in real life or online, being a part of these groups can be a big help. It will give you people to talk to who are going through some of the same experiences as you. While you may have to weigh the advice against your own situation, these groups can be a great starting point for answers to many questions. It is also incredibly helpful to hear from a fellow parent that what you are doing is right.
Ask the pediatrician. - One great resource at your disposal is your child’s pediatrician. Take the time to make a list of questions to bring with you to the next appointment. Your child’s pediatrician has been trained to answer a variety of medical and behavioral questions you might have. Most pediatricians will take the time to answer your questions or point you to a reliable resource if they don’t have the answer. Never underestimate the value of a quality pediatrician for helping you to answer common questions as a father.
Be willing to apologize
As both a father and a husband, being willing to apologize will be a game-changer for you. So many men let pride get in the way of an apology. Being willing to apologize to your spouse or even to your children communicates to them that they matter to you. It’s important to note that apologies should always come with action. Don’t just say sorry and then repeat the behavior. Apologies combined with changed behavior will teach your children so much about how they should act if they hurt or offend someone.
Truths about apologizing men should know
It doesn’t always have to be immediate. - There are situations when an immediate apology is what is needed most. However, there are also times when your spouse or child needs time to cool off and process the situation. Giving this time will give them a better chance of forgiving you when you do apologize.
Apologizing doesn’t make you less of a father/spouse. - Many parents and spouses fall into the trap of believing that apologizing makes them less than. This is actually the opposite of the truth. Being willing to apologize teaches your children the importance of owning their choices. By being open to apologizing when you do wrong, you are showing your children how to handle conflict more effectively.
Be honest about your limits
When becoming a father or husband, it can be tempting to believe that you are 100% ready for the task at hand. Many men have pushed forward believing that they can do it all only to be surprised by their limitations. While it can be humbling, take some time, to be honest about your limits as a dad or as a spouse. This may be a difficult level of introspection but it could be so valuable to your future. When you take the time, to be honest about your limits you are able to find ways to overcome them or work around them.
How to be honest about limits
Start by making an honest list of your strengths. Before you ever sit down to focus on your limits, start by making a list of your strengths. What do you do well? When it comes to parenting or being a husband, what are the areas you know you thrive? Taking the time to make this list can help you be ready for the more humbling part of the equation.
Make a list of the areas you struggle.- Take some time to look at your overall approach to parenting or marriage. Where are your shortfalls at? What things are weaker with? Is there a skill you don’t know that you wish you did? Are there things you wish you could do better as a father or husband. Be honest and add these items to the list.
Is there something you can do about it? - Not every area of weakness has to stay in an area of weakness. In fact, there are many ways to learn new skills, overcome weaknesses, and move forward. When you look at your list, are there struggles that just means you need to ask for help? Would taking a class, asking for advice, or spending some time on a difficult task help you learn? If so, it may be time to work to strengthen those areas of weakness.
What if you can’t change it? - While there are areas of weakness that are within your control to change, there may be some that are not. When you get to these areas of your list, it may be time to work on ways to work around those weaknesses. This might mean that you have to have an alternative plan for how you will handle that task. It may mean that you will need to ask for help, delegate, or be willing to speak with your partner or spouse about that weakness. One of the strongest things you can do as a man is to own your weaknesses.
Maintain open lines of conversation
Within a marriage and as a parent, communication is so important. However, maintaining open lines of conversation isn’t always easy. It can be too easy to shut down a conversation with a well-meant statement or the wrong handling of a situation. Setting up guidelines in advance can help you to better communicate. It can also help you to have more meaningful conversations and avoid some of the more difficult moments that can come from a lack of communication.
Ways to keep lines of communication open
Be willing to listen. - When children are small they tell some of the silliest stories. They will also tell you the same story on repeat. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard the story before. At that moment the temptation can be to dismiss the story. However, take the time to listen. If you are willing to listen with the smaller things, children are more inclined to tell you about the bigger things.
Establish safe areas for conversation. - When dealing with more difficult topics, children can be fearful to bring those to the attention of their father. Take the time to make safe areas for conversation. This might mean choosing to react calmly or asking for time to process new information. The goal is to create a safe area where your child can come to you with any issue and know that you will hear and respect them.
Have safe ways to walk away. - When you disagree about something and handle it in the wrong way it can hinder communication. Having a safe way to walk away from a difficult conversation can be so helpful. Set boundaries for disagreements.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
One area where many men can struggle with is taking themselves too seriously. Society challenges men to be providers, protectors, and keep everything running smoothly for their family. Sometimes the weight of this can be too much and leave man fathers and husbands stuck in serious mode. However, your spouse and children need to laugh with you. This can look different in every situation. The most important thing is that you take the time to find ways to let loose and laugh a bit with your family.
3 Ways to avoid taking yourself too serious
Say yes when you want to say no. - This is not in regards to the bigger issues. Parenting moments that require a "no" should stay that way. Instead, this should go with moments when you are asked to a tea party, asked for ice cream, or when someone wants to play dress up. Take a risk and say yes sometimes. These memories will mean a lot to both of you one day.
Schedule in some fun. - Sometimes being silly or fun doesn’t come easily. This may mean scheduling something fun to do with your spouse or children. Put it on the calendar and make it a part of your routine. Some ideas might be a water balloon fight, silly string competition, or a family movie night with the movie choice coming from the spouse or one of the kids.
Ask for help. - Is it hard for you to loosen up with all you have going on? Ask your partner or even your children what would make them smile. Sometimes having the vulnerability to admit this is a struggle for you can open the door to some fun moments you might have missed out on. Don’t be afraid to share that this is a struggle of yours and ask the people in your life to help you loosen up and laugh a little bit more.
Ask for clarification
Women and children can be confusing at times. Some of what they ask for just doesn’t make sense. It can be as simple as something they need from the store. However, it could also be an emotional need that isn’t met. One of the best ways to handle these situations is to ask for clarification. Don’t be afraid to ask your spouse or children to explain something to you again.
3 Ways to ask for clarification
“I’m sorry. I didn’t understand.” - Sometimes the simplest thing to do is to explain that you didn’t understand something. You are not meant to know and understand everything that is asked of you. Be willing to admit those areas where you don’t understand so the other person can help you understand what they need.
“Can you explain it a different way?” - People can mean well and end up explaining something in a way you don’t understand. Both of you may be investing 100% of your energy and still walk away frustrated. Asking someone to explain something in a different way can help both of you to walk away feeling like your needs have been met.
"What do you need most right now?” - Sometimes people aren’t 100% sure what they need most so they struggle to communicate it effectively. Ask the question, “what do you need most right now” to help keep the conversation moving and get to a positive resolution. Taking the time to break down what the real need is can simplify things so that you can better help.
“Do you need me to do something or do you need me to listen?” - Men are fixers at their core. The desire to fix a problem can keep them from truly stopping and listening. There are many times when women and children want to be heard more than they want something fixed. Asking this question can help you to truly be effective.
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