The Dad List 2023

Random thoughts of a 41-year-old father of three (presently aged 6, 9, and 11)  

  1. Tell your kids you love them with words. They still need to hear it. 
  2. Walk close to your kids that want to walk close, and let your kids that want to walk ahead do so. Parenting is a simultaneous combination of closeness and looseness.   
  3. Always point out what your kids are doing right on the sports field, in school, or at home. Positive affirmation will help them grow more than negative correction. 
  4. Correct their character when it needs correction. This sounds contrary to number three, but it isn’t. Character is much deeper than “form” or “performance.”  
  5. Loving their mom wholeheartedly may be the best way to serve your children. 
  6. Hug your kids before bed every night. 
  7. Explain the “why” behind the decisions you make. Help them to understand the decision-making process so they can use it themselves. 
  8. Loosen the reins as they get older. Remind them that the reins are only loosened with trust but lead them in the transition from “rule-based obedience” to “personal discipline.” 
  9. Cast a vision of what being an adult looks like — things like taking responsibility, leading yourself, and effectively managing money, among MANY other things we’ve talked about this year.
  10. Model the joy of learning. Talk about what you are reading, listening to, and learning. 
  11. Model the positive use of technology. Put your phone away during a one-on-one conversation, or explain why you are answering an email at a professional sports event. Obviously, the goal is not to be. But modeling how — and more importantly, why this is OCCASIONALLY (emphasis intended) necessary is essential as they prepare for a technology-dominated future.   
  12. Demonstrate what a Sabbath looks like. The world is non-stop, so explain why and even how you rest. 
  13. Humanize people in the news through the lens of grace. Try to explain opposing viewpoints in a way that gives them the proper respect. This is counter-cultural and Biblical. 
  14. Try to make your kids laugh from time to time. I occasionally achieve this by talking in a funny voice (I do impersonations if I’m in the right mood!), gently poking fun at them, and talking trash when I dominate them in basement basketball. 
  15. Tell them you love them with words. They still need to hear it. Yes, I am repeating number one, but this is the most important thing. So do it twice.